Professor Gërxhani's study provides a comprehensive analysis of gender differences in performance caused by different dimensions of competition –rivalry for resources and status ranking. It also examines two mechanisms behind such differences: gendered beliefs about performance differences in competitiveness; and concerns about others’ well-being. She also further investigates the way these two mechanisms operate by considering the gender composition of the competitors and one’s effort exerted in a task.
The results show that in the absence of any competitive dimension, men and women perform equally well. Any competitive dimension, however, leads to women doing worse than men. This is predominantly caused by women decreasing their performance, and only partly by men increasing theirs.
Rivalry for resources and status ranking act as substitutes, that is, removing one dimension has little effect if the other remains. The two mechanisms explain these findings for competition: men’s beliefs that they are better than women allow them to excel and women’s concerns for others’ well-being make them reduce their performance.
Despite growing concerns about the social and economic consequences, gender inequalities remain in modern societies, and the authors' findings suggest that any attempt at reducing gender inequality in the labor market must address both dimensions of competition and the underlying gender beliefs held by men.