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UArizona researcher conducts study on women's competitiveness

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When given the option to share winnings, the number of women who wanted to compete doubled.

TUCSON (KVOA) - "This year, women will earn 83 cents for every dollar earned by men, which means women will need to work almost 3 months extra to receive the same pay," said Dr. Mary Rigdon, associate director of the University of Arizona Center for the Philosophy of Freedom. "There's a recent report by the American Association of University Women, that shows that it's estimated women experience $513 billion in lost wages each year because of this stubborn pay gap that persists."

For quite some time, one explanation for that statistic has been that women are not as competitive as men and are then passed over for higher-ranking positions with bigger salaries.

But new research from Dr. Rigdon and Dr. Alessandra Cassar, professor of economics at the University of San Francisco, shows that might not be the case.

The research showed women enter competitions at the same rate as men, but they exhibit their competitiveness differently.

The researchers conducted their research by taking 238 participants, split nearly even by gender, and testing competitiveness with different incentives, including sharing the prize.

When given the option to share winnings, the number of women who wanted to compete doubled.

"It's tempting to conclude that women want to share the spoils when they actually want to be generous, sort of, when we look at the amount they actually share, it's not much and it's a lot less than women generally share in other non non-competitive contexts," said Dr. Rigdon. "So is it the case that women are trying to repair relationships post competition? Do women care about the prize and about having control over how it gets distributed?"

The researchers plan to follow up on their research to try to understand the underlying motivations for why women respond to sharing.

A grant from the National Science Foundation funded the research.