Friday Feminine Angle: Ladies 45% less likely to enter competition

Friday Feminine Angle: Ladies are 45% less likely to enter competition

When it comes to competition, ladies are 45% less likely to enter into competition than their male counterparts, despite performing equally well on a given task. This is according to research carried out by Lise Vesterlund of the University of Pittsburgh. When it comes to gender differences in gaming and gamification very little has been conclusive. As a lady in this field I know what I and most of my girlfriends opt in and opt out from. My personal feeling is to concur with these insights.

The implication for this when designing gamification solutions is that I would have a natural bias to steer away from heavy competition, which was also pointed out in a first assignment I submitted when studying gamification. On the flip side most male designers will insist on having to have competition as a key element in gamification solutions.

In the same research, men enjoyed the “thrill of being in competition” more and they also happened to be “substantially more over-confident in their ability” than women. The funny thing is that ability either way didn’t determine these findings.

When looking at enterprise culture and organisational structure, it comes as no surprise to me that a lot of organisations are very competitive in how they portray their culture and how people are promoted. In HR studies in highly competitive environments more men tend to apply than women for promotion opportunities, which is interesting and similar to the study earlier which was based on games. Is it because men see themselves as more confident or is it because ladies opt out of competing?

I would consider myself reasonably competitive, but I would only enter competition if I feel I have a reasonable chance to do well. For example about a year ago I entered the gamily competition and felt relatively confident about my chances, because it was an inaugural competition and supposed to be held in September last year. Now the competition is yet to happen and the net has widened, the fees returned and the longer it stays open for people to enter even despite the fact that I have since entering have learned a lot more about gamification and potential solutions, I now rate my chances a whole lot lower. Interestingly if given the choice now I would probably not enter.

What I have seen online when friends set challenges, as soon as it is predominantly female participants more females join and it’s a daring man that joins on this one, yet the reverse is also true. In discussions with my girlfriends about work and corporate culture, we have often found the whole male posturing for position rather funny and definitely something to stay clear of. When women compete against each other however the tactics are more subtle, nevertheless they do exist. I always found men were more obvious in their approach, whereas in my experience women tended to be more secretive and subtle. But that is merely perception and observation on my part.

Either way, when looking at gamification solutions it is important to test out how these perspectives play out in practice. I would suggest a male and female test group, to verify your approach.

What have you noticed around gender and competition?

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