Monday, May 1, 2023
12 p.m. – 1 p.m.
Birkelund Board Room, 111 Thayer Street
Most arguments for why women leaders might pursue aggressive policies during interstate conflict emphasize gendered stereotyping of international politics. We highlight a different explanation based on the self selection of certain women into candidacy for leadership positions. To illustrate this mechanism, we conduct a laboratory experiment using online real-time, group play where participants choose to run for election, run a simple campaign, and represent their group in a contest game if elected. We find that women who place a higher non-monetary value on winning were more likely to select into candidacy, win election, and then spend more resources in intergroup contests than their male counterparts. As a result, female leaders pursued more aggressive strategies than male leaders, even though women, on average, tended to invest less in one-on-one contests. These patterns appear even though our protocol stacks the deck against finding gender differences by anonymizing participants and shuffling groups. Our findings emphasize the agency and preferences of female leaders who choose to run and, subsequently, choose to fight harder in intergroup contests.