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Female chess players outperform expectations when playing men

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Description: "Stereotype threat" has been offered as a potential explanation of differential performance between men and women in some cognitive domains. Questions remain about the reliability and generality of the phenomenon. Previous studies have found that stereotype threat is activated in female chess players when they are matched against male players. I use data from over 5.5 million games of international tournament chess and find no evidence of a stereotype threat effect. In fact women players outperform expectations when playing men. Further analysis shows no influence of degree of challenge, nor of player age, nor of prevalence of female role models in national chess leagues on differences in performance when women play men versus when they play women. Though this analysis contradicts one specific mechanism of influence of gender stereotypes, the persistent differences between male and female players suggest that systematic factors do exist and remain to be uncovered.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International

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