Women and Men See Professional Competition in a Very Different Way

Women are less competitive than men! Also, women are less likely to describe themselves as competitive and are less motivated to enter competitions of various kinds. According to recent research by economists and political scientists, people who are more competitive do better from the point of view of socio-economics. The study revealed that among top candidates of MBA programs ‘the gender difference in competitiveness accounted for 10% of the gender gap in earnings 9 years after graduation; among female and male economists in France it accounted for 76% of the promotion gap,’ reported Harvard Business Review.

Women are not always confident to enter a competition

This does beg the question, why are women less competitive than men? Previous research pointed to evolutionary pressures like the domestic responsibilities women have been subject to for generations and more importantly, the patriarchal system which has dominated the world since the beginning of time. Therefore, men have had the upper hand and when it comes to competitions and have higher payoffs as a result. In addition to this, women might be apprehensive to enter competitions because they might not be as confident as men, and here’s where the confidence gap comes into play again. Researchers Selin Kesebir, Sun Young Lee, Andrew Elliot, Madan Pillutla said, “In our sample of 2,331 people (49% women, 51% men, with an average age of 34 years), 63% of the women were less convinced than the average man that competition boosts performance, builds character, and leads to innovative solutions. While there was no robust gender difference when it came to negative beliefs about competition, it was clear that men see more of an upside to competition than women.”

Women don’t always think that being competitive will have a positive outcome

One of the reasons why men have a positive outlook towards competitions is due to the fact that they believe that the outcome will also be a positive one. “This has implications for all of us when we are confronted with the opportunity to compete in the workplace. Few of us ever explicitly wonder whether these kinds of contests are good or bad or whether we should strive to be more or less competitive. But we may hold these beliefs anyway — and they may seriously affect our professional prospects and earning potential,” added HBR. Therefore, it is important to take into account the belief system and the difference in how girls and boys are raised at home. Also, it also reveals how young women are perceived when they enter competitions as compared to men and this reveals how much needs to change in terms of what women and men should and should not do.

Image credit: Harvard Business Review

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