We present the results of an experiment that explores whether women are less willing than men to guess on multiple-choice tests. Our test consists of practice questions from SAT II history tests; we vary whether a penalty is imposed for a wrong answer and the salience of the evaluative nature of the task. We find that when no penalty is assessed for a wrong answer, all test takers answer every question. But, when there is a penalty for wrong answers, women answer significantly fewer questions than men. We see no differences in knowledge of the material or confidence in the test takers, and differences in risk preferences explain less than half of the observed gap. Making the evaluative aspect of the test more salient does not impact the gender gap. We show that, conditional on their knowledge of the material, test takers who skip questions do significantly worse on our test.
Gender Differences in Willingness to Guess”. Management Science 60.2 (2014): , 60, 2, 434-448. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract. “