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Competition and Gender in the Lab vs Field: Experiments from off-grid Renewable Energy Entrepreneurs in Rural Rwanda

Rebecca Afua Klege, Martine Visser, Manuel F. Barron, Rowan P. Clarke
Publication date: 
January 2020

We fill the gap by examining how gender attitudes and performance under competitive situations in the lab, reflects microenterprise outcomes in the renewable energy sector of Rwanda. — a country with progressive gender policies despite its traditional patriarchal set-up. We use the standard Niederle and Vesterlund (2007) experimental design in addition to a unique dataset from off-grid microenterprises, managed by entrepreneurs who have been working in mixed and single-sex teams since 2016. Our findings show that the gender composition of teams does not affect decisions to compete in the lab. Instead returns to education and risk-taking are more valuable to single-sex teams than for mixed gender teams. We also show that under competitive situations, women perform as well as men. Findings from the field strongly support findings in the lab that female-owned enterprises do not underperform in competitive settings, which corroborates the external validity of our lab results. Given that lab and field findings suggest no significant differentials in terms of competitiveness or performance of females, there exist ample scope to increase women involvement in the renewabe energy sector of Rwanda.

Publication PDF: 
Series title: 
Working paper 806
The Journal of Behavioural and Experimental Economics