September 2018

IZA DP No. 11861: Teamwork, Leadership and Gender

We ran a field experiment to investigate whether individual performance in teams depends on the gender of the leader. About 430 students from an Italian University took an intermediate exam that was partly evaluated on the basis of teamwork. Students were randomly matched in teams of three and in each team we randomly chose a leader with the task of coordinating the work of the team. We find a positive and significant effect of female leadership on team performance. This effect is driven by the higher performance of team members in female led teams rather than due to an improvement in the leader’s performance. We also find that, in spite of the higher performance of female led teams, male members tend to evaluate female leaders as less effective, whereas female members are more sympathetic towards them.