DP11685 Performance in Mixed-sex and Single-sex Tournaments: What We Can Learn from Speedboat Races in Japan

Author(s): Alison L Booth, Eiji Yamamura
Publication Date: December 2016
Keyword(s): gender and competition, gender identity, peer effects, tournaments, women's labor participation
JEL(s): J16, L83, M5
Programme Areas: Labour Economics
Link to this Page: www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=11685

In speedboat racing in Japan, women racers participate and compete in races under the same conditions as men, and all individuals are randomly assigned to mixed-gender or single-gender groups for each race. In this paper we use a sample of over 140,000 observations of individual-level racing records provided by the Japanese Speedboat Racing Association to examine how male-dominated circumstances affect women's racing performance. We control for individual fixed-effects plus a host of other factors affecting performance (such as starting lane, fitness and weather conditions). Our estimates reveal that women's race-time is slower in mixed-gender races than in all-women races, whereas men racer's time is faster in mixed-gender races than men-only races. In mixed-gender races, male racers are found to be more "aggressive" - as proxied by lane-changing - in spite of the risk of being penalized if they contravene the rules, whereas women follow less aggressive strategies. We find no difference in disqualifications between genders. We suggest that gender-differences in risk-attitudes and over-confidence may result in different responses to the competitive environment and penalties for rule-breaking, and that gender-identity also plays a role.