Grupos de Investigación

Seminario IECON: "When Diligence Backfires: Gender Differences in Prioritizing Rewarding Tasks"

Presenta Fernanda Gonçalvez (Sao Paulo School of Economics) en coautoría con Bruna Borges, Fernanda Estevan y Louis-Philippe Morin

We investigate gender performance differences in reaction to task-rewards variation in a competitive environment, and we explore their potential sources. We use admission exam data from a selective Brazilian university, UNICAMP, to verify how the female-male performance gap changes in parts of the exam that count relatively more towards the final admission exam score, i.e., in which rewards are larger. In this environment, female and male applicants answer identical questions, irrespective of their major choice. However, the question rewards (weights) toward the exam's final score vary based on the applicant's major choice.  The richness of our data allows us to flexibly control for applicants' major-choice self-selection issues (through the use of applicant fixed-effects combined with multiple subject-specific ability measures).  Our results suggest that females' performance decreases relative to males' when they face a larger-reward subject, and this decrease is more pronounced for higher-achieving applicants. We do not find systematic heterogeneity in the effect of increasing rewards across subjects. The exam structure and its competitive nature allow us to rule out a few often-cited potential factors such as risk aversion and `slacking off' as key drivers of our results. After investigating applicants' performance in more detail (at the exam question level), we also rule out gender differences in performance on difficult questions, mental fatigue, and time-management issues as potential mechanisms.  However, females become significantly more likely to omit (not answer) questions when rewards are more important. Female applicants are more likely to have perfect scores on questions with lower rewards (parts of the exam that count less toward the final score). Taken together, the pieces of evidence suggest that gender differences in diligence and self-confidence can explain our results.

Martes 17/5/2022
12 a 13 hs.
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