Can Teams Help to Close the Gender Competition Gap?


  •  Corresponding author: Andrew Healy, Department of Economics, Loyola Marymount University, 1 LMU Drive, Room 4229, Los Angeles, CA 90045, USA. Email:

  • For detailed comments on earlier drafts of this article, we thank Richard Fox, Dorothea Herreiner, and Stephan Kroll. We thank participants in the 2007 Economic Science Association meetings in Tucson, AZ, for helpful comments. We also thank Gena Gammie, Kevin Gomez, and Jacob Wasag for excellent research assistance and acknowledge a Loyola Marymount Faculty Research Grant for financial support.


We investigate the effect that competing in teams has on gender differences in choosing to enter competitions. In our experiment, subjects chose whether to compete based on the combined performance of themselves and a teammate. We find that competing in two-person teams reduces the gender competition gap by two-thirds. Independent of the sex of one’s partner, female subjects prefer to compete in teams whereas male subjects prefer to compete as individuals. We find that this result is driven primarily by gender differences in competitive preferences, as opposed to other potential explanations such as risk aversion, feedback aversion or confidence.