Female Competitiveness

In a result that may or may not mean anything, Rosanne Roy of McGill set up a game that in two variants either had all participants win, or one only. She set up forty groups of either four boys or four girls, aged 5 -6 or 9 -10, and found that the boys would compete regardless of whether there would be a single winner or not. Girls generally chose to compete only in the variant of the game when it was possible to win. The problem with this kind of research is that you can interpret it any way you want – boys are sensitive to thier inner selves (they competed purely to engage in the process) while girls are much more superficial (they only compete for external rewards). Obviously, this was not Professor Roy’s preferred interpretation (which was, roughly speaking, boys are competitive to the point of stupidity). (Research reported at the International Society for Human Ethology conference, August 2002.) (For a serious look at female competitiveness, see Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, Mother Nature, Pantheon, 1999.) (9/11)

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