Nagore Iriberri, Pedro Rey Biel, 24 October 2016

The underrepresentation of women in top positions within firms is well documented. One potential contributing factor could be that men and women respond differently to the competitive pressure inherent in firm hierarchies. This column investigates this idea in the context of a two-stage maths competition for students in Spain. Despite male and female students achieving similar grades at school, male students perform better in both stages of the contest. Importantly, the gender gap increases in the second stage, when the competitive pressure is greater.

Sanghamitra Das, Kala Krishna , Sergey Lychagin, Rohini Somanathan, 30 May 2011

Since the late 1990s, India has liberalised its economy to an extent unthinkable even 20 years ago. This column looks at the effect that private sector competition can have on the country’s still large public sector. Using plant-level data from the main provider of steel for India’s railways it finds that when the publicly-owned company faced the risk of closure, productivity dramatically increased.

Evren Örs, Frédéric Palomino, Eloïc Peyrache, 21 July 2008

What causes the persistent gender gap among high-income earners? Using entrance exams from an elite French university, this column suggests that part of the explanation may lie in gender differences in performing under competitive pressure.

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