Gendered Economic Advantages for Women in Markets: Field Experimental Evidence from Microenterprises in India | WIP Seminar with Laura Doering

When and Where

Wednesday, December 14, 2022 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm


Laura Doering, Assistant Professor, Rotman School of Management and the Department of Sociology


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Meeting ID: 898 5533 8048
Passcode: 666691

Gender beliefs often create disadvantages for women in markets, as evaluators and customers underestimate women’s capabilities and professional commitments relative to men. In this study, we theorize and test a set of conditions under which gender beliefs lead to economic advantages for women in face-to-face product markets. We anticipate that, because customers expect women to be more pleasant and pliant than men, they may be more likely to approach and make purchases from them. To test this proposition, we designed a field experiment to examine how customers respond differently to male and female sellers. We created identical de novo microenterprises in Indian marketplaces and randomly assigned male and female confederate sellers to operate them. Consistent with expectations, we found that female sellers were approached by more customers and sold more than men. Although sellers in our experiment were not permitted to bargain, we also found that customers attempted to bargain more with women. Overall, our study reveals how gender beliefs can create advantages for women at certain stages of market transactions. It also shows how in-person field experiments—a method not traditionally used in sociology—can illuminate important and surprising social processes.