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We provide evidence that women enter competitions at the same rate as men when the incentive for winning includes the option to share part of the rewards with the losers (i.e., when the incentive system is socially oriented). Using an experiment (with N = 238 subjects from three laboratories), we find that about 16% more men than women choose to compete in the standard tournament; this gender gap is eliminated in the socially oriented incentive treatment. While men’s choice to compete remains unchanged, at around 52% in both conditions, women increase their entry rate from 35% in the standard tournament to 60% when the incentive includes a socially oriented option.


This article was originally published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, volume 118, issue 5, in 2021.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.