Abstract

Competition typically involves two main dimensions, a rivalry for resources and the ranking of relative performances. If socially recognized, the latter yields a ranking in terms of social status. The rivalry of resources resulting from interacting under a competitive incentive scheme has been found to negatively affect women's performance relative to that of men. However, little is known about gender differences in the performance consequences of status ranking. We find that in anticipation of ranking women perform more poorly than men while there is no performance difference without status ranking. This is important because recent studies argue that women may be underrepresented in top positions because they shy away from -and sometimes underperform under- competition. It has been argued that adapting the institutions under which competition takes place could improve women's position. Our results suggest that increased participation in competitive environments could harm women's labor market success along a different channel. We thus highlight an overlooked impediment for workplace promotion of women that may have major implications for the design of labor market competitions.