Girls Will Be Boys: Gender, Beliefs and Selection in the Field

David Huffman (University of Pittsburgh)
Collin Raymond (Purdue University)
Julia Shvets (University of Cambridge)

Abstract : Growing evidence from, mostly, laboratory supports the view that women, compared to men, have a greater dislike for competitive environments and sometimes underperform in such settings. This literature points at differences in attitudes towards risk, competition and confidence as possible explanations. We try to understand this more by going to the field. We study store managers who work for a firm with a highly competitive, high powered incentive scheme, with public circulation of weekly league tables. We combine historical data from the firm with a series of lab-in-the-field experiments with the managers. In contrast with existing evidence, we find that women are not put off by the highly competitive nature of the firm’s incentive scheme. Indeed, 60% of the managers are women. Furthermore, in historical data, we find no differences in performance of men and women or in retention. There are also no gender differences in job satisfaction, confidence or risk-aversion. These results show that many women can be attracted to competitive jobs and, once there, perform similarly to men, and have similar attitudes. One obvious explanation is that certain types of women self-select themselves into our firm. We show, however, that this cannot be the full story. We find a striking contrast between on-the-job results and behaviour of the same female managers in the lab, where we engaged them in a maths task (Niederle and Versterlund (2007) design). We find that female managers displayed significantly less confidence and more dislike of competition compared to men in the laboratory task, even though they performed on par with men in this task. Taken together our findings show that competitive incentive schemes in the workplace do not necessarily lead to gender differences in behaviour and attitudes. Further, self-selection is not the full story. The nature of the task matters: while gender differences may be absent in one domain, and persist in others.

Does Culture Pay? Evidence from Crowdsourced Employee Engagement Data

Christos Makridis (Arizona State University & MIT Sloan)

Abstract : Corporate culture is increasingly important for retention and employee motivation. First, using a new survey tool with, I show that culture is strongly correlated with employee engagement and both firm productivity and occupational skills. Second, using plausibly exogenous variation in employees' outside options, I find that the average employee is willing to give up 1.7% of their annual earnings ($1,159/year) for a standard deviation increase in culture and that higher income employees are willing to give up even more. These results suggest that companies use culture to hire and retain talented workers.

Managers' Gender Attitudes and the Gender Gap

Maddalena Ronchi (Queen Mary University of London)
Nina Smith (Aarhus University)

Abstract : Do managers' gender attitudes shape gender-gaps within firms? To answer this question, we build on sociological work showing that a child's gender influences parental attitudes and behavior towards women, and we extend it to the context of human resource management. Using social-security data from Denmark we exploit birth events within manager-establishment spells and show that female employees working in establishments where male managers parent an additional daughter, as opposed to a son, experience an improvement in labor outcomes. In particular, we find that the female earnings ratio increases by 2.5% and the share of female employment increases by 2.3% and that these effects are stronger for the birth of the first daughter (4.4% and 2.9% respectively). These results are driven by a higher propensity to hire women with more education, who work full time, and who are the establishment's top earners. To shed light on the mechanisms behind the link between fathering a daughter and managers' gender attitudes, we further exploit the timing of the estimated results. We find that the effects on female relative earnings and employment kick in right after the birth event, and persist in the following years, consistently with a change in preferences of managers. In addition to a change in preferences, we provide suggestive evidence for a change in managers' beliefs about women as, relying on cross-sectional variation, we find that the positive effects on female earnings and employment are increasing in the age of the first daughter. Finally, as we do not find any effect of fathering a daughter on firms' performance, we conclude that there is no equity-efficiency trade-off in our setting.