IZA DP No. 10384: Performance in Mixed-Sex and Single-Sex Tournaments: What We Can Learn from Speedboat Races in Japan
Forthcoming in: Review of Economics and Statistics, 2018.
In speedboat racing in Japan, women racers participate and compete in races under the same conditions as men, and all individuals are randomly assigned to mixed-gender or single-gender groups for each race. In this paper we use a sample of over 140,000 observations of individual-level racing records provided by the Japanese Speedboat Racing Association to examine how male-dominated circumstances affect women's racing performance. We control for individual fixed-effects plus a host of other factors affecting performance (such as starting lane, fitness and weather conditions). Our estimates reveal that women's race-time is slower in mixed-gender races than in all-women races, whereas men racer's time is faster in mixed-gender races than men-only races. In mixed-gender races, male racers are found to be more 'aggressive' – as proxied by lane-changing – in spite of the risk of being penalized if they contravene the rules, whereas women follow less aggressive strategies. We find no difference in disqualifications between genders. We suggest that gender-differences in risk-attitudes and over-confidence may result in different responses to the competitive environment and penalties for rule-breaking, and that gender-identity also plays a role.