Let's (Not) Talk about Sex: The Effect of Information Provision on Gender Differences in Performance under Competition


We study how gender differences in performance under competition are affected by the provision of information regarding rival's gender and/or differences in relative ability. In a laboratory experiment, we use two tasks that differ regarding perceptions about which gender outperforms the other. We observe women's underperformance only under two conditions: 1) tasks are perceived as favoring men and 2) rivals' gender is explicitly mentioned. This result can be explained by stereotype-threat being reinforced when explicitly mentioning gender in tasks in which women already consider they are inferior. Omitting information about gender is a safe alternative to avoid women's underperformance in competition.