News Release

New research finds women don’t like to participate in competitive situations when deciding for themselves, but when deciding for others, they are all in

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

New INFORMS Journal Management Science Study Key Takeaways:

  • Women shy away from competitive environments more than men when making decisions for themselves.
  • When deciding for others, more women compete but at an indistinguishable rate to men. This is true whether the gender of the person one is choosing for is known.
  • The closure of the gender gap reached this way is not efficient.


BALTIMORE, MD, July 27, 2022 – Although most decisions in life are made by individuals themselves, many are influenced by others such as principals, managers, parents or colleagues. New research in the INFORMS journal Management Science finds that women take part in competitive environments more when they are making decisions for other people rather than themselves.

“We find that women shy away from competitive environments more than men when deciding for themselves, only 35% of women choose to compete compared to 56% of men. But, when choosing for others, more women compete, resulting in an equal representation of men and women,” says Helena Fornwagner of the University of Regensburg and University of Exeter.

The study, “Choosing Competition on Behalf of Someone Else,” conducted by Fornwagner alongside, Nina Serdarevic of the Centre for Applied Research, FAIR Insight Team, and Monika Pompeo of the University of Bologna, finds that despite these results, this comes at the cost of fewer payoff-maximizing outcomes than when individuals decide for themselves. 

“Gender plays an essential role in most labor market decisions, particularly those relating to the willingness to compete. Nonetheless, when making competitive decisions on behalf of others, we show that gender does not matter; neither the gender of the person deciding nor the person one is deciding for,” concludes Fornwagner.


Link to full study.


About INFORMS and Management Science

Management Science is a premier peer-reviewed scholarly journal focused on research using quantitative approaches to study all aspects of management in companies and organizations. It is published by INFORMS, the leading international association for operations research and analytics professionals. More information is available at or @informs.





Ashley Smith



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