Psychologically, women may not like much competition, according to a female psychologist, and that may account for inequality in academia and the work force.
If that is true, though, why is psychology 70 percent women? There is just as much competition, it just isn't men. It may be that because psychology has a smaller monetary reward, women feel more communal than competitive, according to Dr. Kathrin Hanek, the study's lead author.
Men seek larger competitions, which are typically associated with higher monetary rewards, she believes. "Smaller social groups, even when individuals are in competition, tend to allow people to form more intimate social bonds and be more attuned to others' needs. And these communal behaviors, in turn, tend to be more normative for women."
Hanek and colleagues found consistent gender differences in the preference for smaller versus larger competitions across a variety of different competition contexts. One study examined women's and men's real decisions to enter a small (10 competitors) or large (100 competitors) word-formation task competition. The results indicated that 53 percent of women but only 41 percent of men preferred the small competition.
The social scientists aren't letting gender bias and discrimination off the hook, but that awkwardly makes psychology look, again because it is 70 percent women, so it has more gender bias than physics or engineering.
Published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.