Date of Graduation

Spring 5-20-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in International and Development Economics (MSIDEC)


College of Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Alessandra Cassar


This study investigates how monetary incentives versus non-monetary incentives affect women’s decision to enter a competitive environment. This study was conducted in Ancona Italy, in a controlled laboratory experiment with a total of 60 participants; of which 29 were male and 31 were female. Participants were given mathematical addition problems to solve under alternative incentives. How they received these incentives differed based on their preference to enter or withdraw from the competition. The study also included components that assessed risk preferences and willingness to pay for the non-monetary incentive in the experiment. Results show no significant difference in performance scores in the mathematical rounds among gender. However, there is a slight marginal difference when it comes to choosing competition when the incentives are switched from cash to a non-monetary incentive. When cash was the incentive, 41% of men chose to enter competition compared to 29% of women. When the incentive was switched to a gender salient non-monetary incentive, 45% of men chose to enter competition compared to 42% of women. Even though these differences are not statistically significant, the study suggests that women’s inclination to compete increased after the incentive was switched from cash to a non-monetary gender-salient incentive.