Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Paul Richard Fahy


This paper is an experimental economic study that serves two main functions. The first of these is to provide a replication of the findings of Schotter and Weigelt: that when an equal opportunity or affirmative action program is imposed, the effort levels of all employees tend to increase and not just the effort of the parties discriminated against. Secondly, this study looks into the differences between the effort levels shown by men and women in similar situations.

The hypothesis of this paper is that while the effort of all individuals is lowered in the presence of discrimination, the effort levels of the females drop more than male effort levels.

Three experiments were conducted at Eastern Illinois University. The first was a ten round tournament used to measure effort levels in the absence of discrimination. The second was a ten round unfair tournament with discrimination. The final experiment was a twenty round unfair tournament with discrimination.

The results of this set of experiments imply two things. The first major result of this study is that the work of Schotter and Weigelt was replicated. This provides a basis from which to expand into an investigation of the area of gender differences in effort levels. This leads to the second major result of this research. The experiments show that when no discrimination is present there is no significant difference between the effort of males and females. This research also shows that when a discrimination factor is present, women exhibit less effort than their male counterparts in some situations. This difference is most significant when the women were in the disadvantaged category.

The results of this study provide a good beginning for research into the area of gender differences in effort levels, which is an area that currently does not have much empirical information available.