Professional Development Seminar: Competing by Default - A New Way to Break the Glass Ceiling


From: Thursday May 25, 2017, 12:30 pm

To: Thursday May 25, 2017, 1:30 pm

Competing by Default: A New Way to Break the Glass Ceiling

We conduct an experiment to examine whether the pervasive Opt-in mechanism used in most organizations, where potential candidates have to put their hands up and actively choose to participate in the competition for leadership, contributes to the glass ceiling and the gender gap observed in leadership positions. We design an Opt-out mechanism where the default is to compete for the leadership position and individuals can opt out of competition. Our findings suggest that women are more likely to compete for leadership positions in the Opt-out mechanism and this effectively reduces the gender gap in competition. When given a choice between the Opt-in and Opt-out mechanisms, individuals are equally likely to choose either one. We conclude that the Opt-out mechanism can be an effective and feasible way to break the glass ceiling.

About the speaker

Nisvan Erkal is an Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Melbourne. She joined the University of Melbourne in January 2003 after finishing her Ph.D. at the University of Maryland, College Park in 2002. In 2007 and 2011, she was a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. Nisvan’s research interests are in the areas of industrial organization and experimental economics. In industrial organization, her research mainly focuses on the law and economics of innovation, and competition policy. In the area of experimental economics, her focus has been on social issues such as attitudes towards corruption, cultural integration, and charitable giving. Her research has been published widely in leading international journals such as Science, American Economic Review, European Economic Review, Journal of Public Economics, International Journal of Industrial Organization, Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, and Experimental Economics. Nisvan is on the Executive Committee of Intertic, an international Think-Tank on Innovation and Competition, and is a member of the Asia-Pacific Innovation Network.


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ESC Boardroom

Level 37, 2 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

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