Mary Rigdon, credit Jade Beall

Mary Rigdon, Associate Director,

Center for the Philosophy of Freedom, UA

Lecture Canceled – Wednesday, January 5, 2022


The latest national US wage data shows women earn 83 cents for every dollar a man is paid, a statistic that has barely budged in decades. And while controlling for job type and individual characteristics closes much of the gap, it doesn’t close all the way. To be able to close the gap between how much men and women earn, it’s important to understand the causes of the gap.

Some economists have suggested it’s at least partly due to women’s being less competitive than men. After all, high-risk, competitive roles like managers and lawyers tend to come with lofty salaries. So, if women shy away from competition, this could help explain why women are underrepresented in those careers and on average earn less. Mary Rigdon and her collaborator, Alessandra Cassar, suggest the explanation may be more nuanced. It’s not that women don’t like competition, but that they are sensitive to social aspects of it that men aren’t, such as post-competition social repair, or even the opportunity to share the rewards. When incentives reflect those social aspects, women are just as competitive as men.  In her talk, Rigdon discusses this research and the follow-up project to better understand gender, competitiveness, and the wage gap.

Mary Rigdon is a professor and Associate Director of The Center for the Philosophy of Freedom at the University of Arizona.  She is also an affiliate with the Department of Political Economy and Moral Science as well as with Rutgers’ Center for Population-Level Bioethics. Rigdon’s research is mostly focused on decision making and most recently she and her research partner, Alessandra Cassar, are the recipients of a $300,000 award from the National Science Foundation’s Decision, Risk and Management Sciences, Economics, and the Science of Broadening Participation program.

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Jan 5: “What We Know – and Don’t Know – about Gender, Competitiveness and the Wage Gap”