The Bagel logo
  • Ryan Wittler

Women Are Just as Competitive as Men, Especially When They Can Share Their Winnings With the Loser


One theory that’s been floated as an explanation for our nation’s long-standing gender pay gap is that women simply aren’t as competitive as men, and, therefore, they get passed up for roles with larger salaries.

Now, a new study from researchers at the University of Arizona has cast doubt on that notion, finding that women enter just as many competitions as men...when they have the chance to share their winnings with the losers.

Some highlights:

In the first round of the study, the researchers had participants solve simple math equations, awarding them $2 for each correct result and $4 if they were the top performer in the group.

In the second round, the participants were put into subgroups and were told their pay would be divided based on who solved the most equations, giving the top performers $4 and allowing them to decide how much to give the lower performers.

In the final round, the participants were given the choice to choose whichever payment scheme they preferred from the previous two rounds.

Prosocial competition:

The researchers found the number of women who chose to compete nearly doubled when given the option to split their winnings with the losers (about 60% that chose to compete selected the split-the-winnings option, while 35% took the winner-take-all scheme).

Men were about even, with 51% choosing the winner-take-all format and 52.5% preferring the split-the-winnings option.

Bagel HQ, Los Angeles, CA