Gender competition in matrilineal vs patriarchal society

In addition to research and writing, summer is time to catch up on my reading. I thought I might share summaries of my favorites.

I first heard about “Gender Differences in Competition: Evidence From a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society” on Freakonomics. In this study, subjects were anonymously paired with someone else to toss tennis balls into a bucket; they were asked if they prefer to be paid on the basis of their own performance (X per success) or relative performance (3X per success; X if it’s a tie). Among the Maasai in Tanzania (a textbook example of a patriarchal society) the men competed twice the rate of women (50% to 26%). Conversely, among the Khasi in India (matrilineal) women chose the competitive environment more often than the men (54% to 39%) “and even choose to compete weakly more often than Maasai men” (54% to 50%).

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