The size of a competition – such as the number of applicants to a particular job or the number of people vying for a monetary reward – shapes who enters the competition.
Women prefer smaller competitions, whereas men seek larger competitions, which are typically associated with higher monetary rewards, the study said.
“These patterns of findings can contribute to a better understanding of gender inequality in the workforce,” said Kathrin Hanek, the study’s lead author from University of Michigan in the US.
“The gender difference in preferences may in part explain pay gaps and the underrepresentation of women in particular fields or at the helm of large organisations,” Hanek noted.
The findings appeared in the Journal of Applied Psychology.
The difference between the genders can be partially attributed to women feeling more comfortable in smaller competitions.
The results indicated that 53 percent of women but only 41 percent of men preferred the small competition.