A Sex Difference in Risk Taking and Promotions in Hierarchies

Evidence from Females in Legislatures

Published: 
Wednesday, August 1, 2012

House Finance CommitteeAbstract

Scotchmer showed how a sex difference in risk taking can cause promotional patterns to differ across sexes, even if discrimination is absent and ability is identically distributed ex ante. In her model, (1) winner-take-all promotions favor risk-taking males, but (2) promoted females enjoy greater ability and (3) see this advantage depreciate with repeated play. I find persistent evidence for the first two implications in how the sex composition of national legislatures differs across electoral mechanisms (winner-take-all chambers employ a greater proportion of males) and in how reelection prospects for U.S. representatives differ by sex (females enjoy longer expected service in a winner-take-all chamber). Finally, while the data convey less information about the third implication, the results are difficult to rationalize in alternative models and can have important implications not only for affirmative action doctrines but also for corporate fiduciary duties.


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Journal of Law and Economics
Through 20 years of experience in business, policy, and academic research and teaching, Dino Falaschetti (PhD, MBA, CPA) managed Fortune 100 audit-engagements and corporate finance operations, created insightful business analytics and litigation support strategies, and helped develop productive policies for the White House and state legislatures...
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