1. Datta Gupta: Department of Economics, Aarhus School of Business and Social Sciences, Aarhus University, Frichshuset, Hermodsvej 22, DK-8230 Aabyhoej, Denmark, and Institute for the Study of Labour (IZA), Bonn, Germany, E-mail
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    1. Poulsen: School of Economics and Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS), University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK, E-mail
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    1. Villeval: University of Lyon, F-69007, Lyon, France, and CNRS; GATE (Groupe d’Analyse et de Théorie Économique), Lyon St Etienne, 93, Chemin des Mouilles, F-69130 Ecully, France, E-mail
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    • We are grateful to the editor and two anonymous referees, G. Charness, R. Croson, W. Güth, D. Neumark, P. Oyer, E. Meyersson Milgrom, A. Riedl, R. Slonim, and P. Wakker for extremely useful comments and suggestions. We have also benefited from comments by participants at the EALE conference in Prague, the ESA International meeting in Montreal, the ESPE conference in Paris, the workshop on gender and the labor market at the University of Stanford, the Max Planck Institute workshop in Ringberg-Tegernsee, and at the Tinbergen Institute in Amsterdam. We thank R. Zeiliger for programming the experiment. Financial support from the French Ministry of Social Affairs (DREES-MiRE), from the National Agency of Research (ANR, RHISE program, no.045-675/50.0520), and from the Danish Council for Independent Research in the Social Sciences is gratefully acknowledged.


This paper experimentally investigates if and how people's competitiveness depends on their own gender and on the gender of people with whom they interact. Participants are given information about the gender of the co-participant they are matched with, they then choose between a tournament or a piece rate payment scheme, and finally perform a real task. As already observed in the literature, we find that significantly more men than women choose the tournament. The gender of the co-participant directly influences men's choices (men compete less against other men than against women), but only when the gender information is made sufficiently salient. A higher predicted competitiveness of women induces more competition. Giving stronger tournament incentives, or allowing the participants to choose the gender of their co-participant, increases women's willingness to compete, but does not close the gender gap in competitiveness. (JEL C70, C91, J16, J24, J31, M52)