Project title Gender, Competitiveness and Stereotypes
Duration  10 weeks

This project entails a literature review of academic papers in both economics and psychology, focussing on the causes of gender differences.

Economists and psychologists have long been interested in understanding gender differences, asking questions such as: Why are women underrepresented in high-level occupations? Why do girls drop out of STEM courses faster than boys?

Two prominent theories are competitiveness and stereotypes. The former argues that women are less competitive than men (either biologically, or through external pressures), which translates into less favourable outcomes in the workforce. The latter theory argues that there are negative psychological effects for women when the context contains a negative gender stereotype (e.g. when students are told that females typically perform worse in a certain course or exam, this stereotype by itself affects the actual performance).

The main objective of the literature review is to assess the current state of these theories in both economics and psychology, and to see whether there might be a connection between them. For example, do females become less competitive in adulthood because of negative stereotype threats in their youth?

Expected outcomes & deliverables
  1. Prepare a high-quality literature review that assimilates academic articles from two different fields (economics and psychology) and links two research strands (competitiveness and stereotypes)
  2. Propose hypotheses to reconcile the findings of the literature review, which we will then discuss and propose a plan for empirical and/or experimental testing.
Student qualities

This project is suitable for students in either economics or psychology, but preferably with an interest in both fields and/or gender. Experience in critically reading academic publications in both fields is required, and so the student would most likely be in a master’s or honours program at UQ, or else have other qualifying experience. Past experience in preparing literature reviews is highly desirable.

Primary supervisor

Dr David Smerdon

Further information

Contact Dr David Smerdon