The gender gap in risk-taking is often used to explain differences in labor market outcomes. Yet, a number of studies suggest that this gap is larger in private contexts and is reduced in professional contexts. In two online field experiments with more than 1500 scientists we shed light on the causal role of the professional context by varying the salience of the professional or private identity. The main study finds that the gender gap in risk-taking is moderated—and vanishes for older scientists—when the professional identity is salient. The second study—designed to further explore mechanisms relating to non-professional identity—yields inconclusive results. While the results of the main study imply that gender gaps may be driven by the ability to switch between identities and adapt to prevailing norms, our second study suggest the need for further research to examine how prevailing norms are shaped and identity affects gender gaps.
- Field experiment
- Labor market