What do women want, if not to “lean in”?
They want to cooperate, according to results of an experiment by researchers published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Authors Peter J. Kuhn and Marie-Claire Villeval aimed to find what types of work environments attract women, noting that other studies have shown they shy away from competition. So, they asked women to choose between being compensated individually or sharing equally in a group’s output.
Females opted for team-based pay more often than men — even if doing so offered no clear advantage. Why? A lack of confidence, the researchers said.
“This gap can be explained by gender differences in confidence: essentially, the same confidence deficit that pushes women out of competitions pulls women into teams, where it is beneficial to have an abler teammate,” wrote Kuhn, an economics professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Villeval, a research professor at the Paris-based National Center for Scientific Research.
When researchers made it advantageous to join a team, men became equally likely to opt for the group, the study found. Abler members of both genders were more likely to opt for independence, they found.
Women were more likely to pick the `team’ option when so doing would improve their teammates’ incomes, which suggests women are more predisposed toward fostering equality, the study found.
“Our results might help shed light on the substantial and continuing gap in the occupational distribution of men and women, even in societies where a great deal of equality of opportunity exists,” the authors write. They say women are overrepresented in non-profits and “helping” occupations involving cooperation with little financial reward.