May 2010

IZA DP No. 4955: Gender, Competition and the Efficiency of Policy Interventions

shortened version published as 'Affirmative action policies promote women and do not harm efficiency in the lab' in: Science, 2012, 335 (6068), 579-582

Recent research has shown that women shy away from competition more often than men. We evaluate experimentally three alternative policy interventions to promote women in competitions: Quotas, Preferential Treatment, and Repetition of the Competition unless a critical number of female winners is reached. We find that Quotas and Preferential Treatment encourage women to compete significantly more often than in a control treatment, while efficiency in selecting the best candidates as winners is not worse. The level of cooperation in a post-competition teamwork task is even higher with successful policy interventions. Hence, policy measures promoting women can have a double dividend.