Description: Virtual Department Seminar: Shan Aman-Rana
Assistant Professor, UVA
"Does lack of peer choice cause communication frictions across genders?"
(with Brais Álvarez Pereira (NOVAFRICA, Universidade NOVA SBE) and Shamyla Chaudry (Lahore School of Economics))
Abstract: In this paper, we ask whether there are communication frictions across genders in teams and whether these can be reduced by allowing a choice over partners. We conduct a lab-in-the-field experiment with university students studying Economics in Pakistan. We split participants into `test-takers' whose outcomes we study, and `helpers', and measured performance using tests with Economics, Cooking, and Sports multiple-choice questions. We used a within-person design and allocated test-takers either random helpers of either gender or helpers they had stated they preferred to work with at baseline. To investigate communication frictions, along with helper allocation, we cross-randomized the availability of hints for questions. Test-takers were incentivized to maximize performance and were paid piece-rate according to the number of correct answers in a test, with no penalty for hints. First, results show that in a gender stereo-typically male field like Sports, (where women's knowledge gap is highest), there is a positive effect on performance of women from working with preferred male helpers rather than a random one. This is despite the fact that preferred male helpers are not of a higher ability than random ones. Second, we find that in both Cooking and Sports, fewer hints are accessed when women test-takers work with random male partners as compared to when they work alone. This is not the case for preferred male partners or female partners of any type. This shows that there are communication frictions for women when working with male partners that are reduced if male partners are of choice. These results suggest that allowing women to select their team-mate in stereotypically male-oriented fields can be one way to reduce communication frictions and improve performance.
Contact Person: Matthew Clancy