Team Leadership, Experience, and Gender

Last registered on September 04, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Team Leadership, Experience, and Gender
Initial registration date
August 25, 2023

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
September 04, 2023, 6:05 AM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.


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Primary Investigator

University of Cologne

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
The first step from a position without team responsibility to a managerial position is a key bottleneck in women’s career progression. Evidence reveals that women are reluctant to apply to first-level leadership positions which come with the responsibility to lead a team. This experimental study investigates i) the potential gender gap in the preference for becoming a leader whose main task is to communicate with the team and ii) whether exogenously exposing subjects to the leadership experience reduces this potential gender gap. Furthermore, it is investigated how different stereotypes related to the leadership role as well as how positive and negative experiences shape the effect of the leadership experience on the future application behavior for such a role. The results of this experiment can help to understand whether and why exogenously exposing employees to leadership experience can increase the number of (female) applicants for leadership roles and thus decrease the gender representation gap in these kinds of positions.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Thevißen, Paula. 2023. "Team Leadership, Experience, and Gender." AEA RCT Registry. September 04.
Experimental Details


Subjects are stratified by gender and randomly assigned to the treatment condition (leadership position) or to the control condition (team member position). The laboratory experiment investigates the gender difference in the effect of leadership experience on preferences for positions including team leadership.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
The primary outcome variables are the bids submitted in the application stage in which subjects apply to become either a leader with high or low salary.
It will be tested whether (i) the experience of being a leader in Stage 1 leads to a difference in bids submitted by Stage 1 team members and leaders for both types of applications (low or high salary leadership position) and (ii) whether the effects differ by gender. The main specifications will regress submitted bids on treatment, gender, and the respective interaction term. Standard errors will be clustered at Stage-1-group level.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary analyses study the role of experience that leaders have made in Stage 1 of the experiment (positive or negative). The induced random variation in performance feedback will be exploited to estimate the causal effects of experience on bidding behavior. In addition, risk and confidence measures are elicited throughout the study which are also included in further analyses.
Furthermore, stereotypes connected to the leader positions in Stages 1 and 3 are studied using i) subjects’ assessment on whether the leader tasks are rather suited for men or women and ii) the (incentivized) beliefs about male and female team leaders’ performance in Stage 1 and 3 of the experiment. To further explore underlying mechanisms which explain subjects’ behavior, chat protocols as well as answers to open-ended questions about the reasons for subjects’ bidding behavior are analyzed. Moreover, survey answers on the willingness to be a leader will provide additional evidence.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Stage 1: Subjects play a standard public good game (PGG). The PGG is adapted to the context of interest by adding a communication tool. The treated subjects – the leaders – have the communication power within their groups. Treatment assignment is stratified by gender (please see Randomization Method for more details).

Stage 2: Subjects apply for a position as leader in Stage 3 by using the strategy method: they apply to a high and a low salary leadership position by submitting bids in a second price sealed bid auction (Vickrey, 1961). One of their bids is randomly chosen to be (payoff) relevant.

Stage 3: Stage 3 is almost equivalent to Stage 1. The main difference to Stage 1 is that subjects are not randomly assigned to leadership positions, but the assignment will follow the outcomes of Stage 2, the application stage.

During the experiment subjects answer demographic questions, provide survey evidence on e.g., their willingness to lead (Giessner et al. 2022), and state their beliefs about other subjects’ behavior. Subjects’ risk preferences and confidence is measured as well.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
The randomization will be done using the software otree (Chen et al., 2016). An equal number of men and women will be invited to the experiment. Subjects will indicate their current gender in the beginning of the experiment. This information is used to assign all female subjects to one stratum and all male subjects to a second stratum. Subjects who choose the third option (“diverse”) are assigned to the team-member position because the share of potential participants who chose “diverse” when registering for experiments of the CLER is lower than 0.01%. However, it cannot be guaranteed that every person invited will show up which might lead to an unbalanced number of subjects in each stratum. The randomization method takes this into account:
In each stratum, every third subject is assigned to the treatment condition. Thus, ideally, an equal number of male and female subjects is assigned to leadership positions. The leaders are then randomly assigned to two randomly chosen team members. If there is a mismatch in the number of leaders and team members, the subjects who could not be assigned to a group of three will be grouped together. Within this group, one person is randomly chosen to be the leader.

Randomization Unit
Individual subject
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
The number of clusters is the same as the number of observations (please see below).
Sample size: planned number of observations
The planned number of participants is 900.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
One third of the subjects (i.e. 300) will be randomly assigned to the treatment condition (i.e. the role as leader) in Stage 1.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences (ERC-FMES)
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number