'Women cooperate better than men in anonymised interactions.'
A study from Saïd Business School, University of Oxford has uncovered significant gender differences during simulated online investment scenarios, and the findings could have wider implications for women within the finance sector. ‘Our research shows that women cooperate better than men in anonymised interactions,’ said Associate Professor Nir Vulkan. ‘This is similar to what we see in crowd investing, and in FinTech, where there are many more women compared with traditional finance. Our research could help to explain this difference.’
Researcher Sabrina Artinger and Professor Vulkan ran an experiment with 135 participants using OXlab, an online platform for social science experiments. An account with money was assigned to each participant. They were asked to play six rounds of a trust dilemma game, which required them to decide individually whether they wanted to invest their money into a group project. If more than two-thirds of the group participated, the co-operators would gain a profit. However, if less participated, the co-operators would lose money. Artinger and Vulkan found that women were significantly more likely to show trust in large groups than men, with a difference of 21% in a group size of 100.
The paper states that these findings are ‘robust also when controlling for risk aversion, age, and personality. Interestingly, risk aversion as measured in accordance to Holt and Laury (2002) did not affect behaviour.’ Artinger and Professor Vulkan also discovered that the age of participants had a ‘substantial positive influence on cooperation.’
In their analysis of the results, Artinger and Professor Vulkan explained that ‘constructing the presented situation as a trade-off between other-regarding and monetary incentives, larger groups would imply higher levels of cooperation for those with other-regarding preferences. Our data would be consistent with more women than men constructing the presented situation in this way.’
Professor Vulkan believes that these findings have a far-reaching significance for women in finance. ‘The emergence of the FinTech sector and online investment platforms has levelled the playing field for women. Our research sheds light on the reasons for their success,’ he said.