On May 24, 2019 – 100 years to the day after women in Sweden received the right to vote – the first-ever thesis defense in Economics, with only women on stage, is being held at SSE. Emma Heikensten, researcher in Economics, defends her thesis “Motivation and Gender: Experimental studies on Goals, Awards, Advice and Retaliation”.
Heikensten’s thesis tests hypotheses related to motivation or gender differences. Broadly speaking, the thesis contributes to the understanding of how our interactions, relationships and cooperative work are affected by gender. It also suggests policies related to both savings and motivation. Research in the gender literature is mainly focused on individual decision making. But since a growing portion of work today is conducted in teams, and we still see fewer women than men in leadership positions, and lower salary levels among women in general, these results may be an important contribution to our understanding of society.
“I have examined whether it is possible to increase savings by saving for multiple goals, if different types of awards can decrease gender differences in contributing ideas to a group, and if there are gender differences in the propensity to seek advice or retaliation,” says Heikensten.
Gender differences in seeking advice and retaliation
The thesis relates a lab experiment testing gender differences in the propensity to seek advice, and whether the gender of the advisor matters. The results show that men are more prone to seek advice than women, but the gender of the advisor does not matter for this decision. Heikensten also examines gender differences in the propensity to retaliate. The data show that men are 23% more likely to retaliate after being attacked and that the gender of the target does not matter for men; but women are more likely to retaliate against men.
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