Understanding the Gender Pay Gap: What's Competition Got to Do with It?
A number of researchers have argued that men and women have different attitudes toward and behavioral responses to competition; that is, women are more likely to opt out of jobs in which performance pay is the norm. Laboratory experiments suggest that these gender differences are rather large. To check these hypotheses and findings against differences in the field, the authors use performance pay as an indicator of competition in the workplace and compare the gender gap not only in incidence of performance pay but also in earnings and work effort under these contracts. They find that although women are less likely than men to work under performance pay contracts, the gender gap is small. Furthermore, the effect of performance pay on earnings is modest and does not differ markedly by gender. Consequently, the authors argue, the ability of these competition hypotheses to explain the gender pay gap seems very limited.