Gender and Competition: Women like Power as Men Do
Luigi Bosco

This paper, using an experimental laboratory technique, investigates the issue of the gender gap in competition. It focusses on the competition for power, defined as it was the power to influence the utility in a group of subjects by determining the amount of their monetary reward. In the laboratory, it has been created an artificial situation in which experimental subjects (undergraduate students of the University of Siena) were given the chance to compete for power. They had to decide whether to make a bid to win an auction which would enable them to distribute a sum of money among a group of four experimental subjects different from themselves. Two main results emerged. First of all, power, as I defined it, can be seen as an economic good, in other words, most of the agents are willing to pay a positive sum of experimental money in order to buy the benefit to control other agents’ rewards. Secondly, there is no gender difference in this experiment: women enter into the competition as frequently as men and there are no significant differences in bidding behavior between men and women.

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