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Gender Differences in Market Competitiveness in a Real Workplace: Evidence from Performance-based Pay Tournaments among Teachers


  •  Corresponding author: Victor Lavy, Department of Economics, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK. Email:

  •  Special thanks to Alex Levkov and Roy Mill for outstanding research assistance. I benefited from comments from the editor and two referees of this Journal and of seminar participants at Boston University, Hebrew University, London School of Economics, Royal Holloway University of London, CESifo/PEPG 2008 conference and the NBER 2008 Summer Institute Labour Studies conference.


Recent laboratory and field experiments suggest that women are less effective than men in a competitive environment. I examine how teachers’ performance is affected by a competitive environment and its gender mix. Teachers participated in a tournament that provided cash bonuses based on test performance of their classes. I find no evidence of gender differences in performance under competition in any gender mix environment, or in teachers’ knowledge of the programme and in effort and teaching methods. Women, however, were more pessimistic about the effectiveness of teachers’ performance pay and more realistic than men about their likelihood of winning bonuses.