Mary L. Rigdon, Freedom Center Director and Associate Professor of Political Economy and Moral Science, is the featured speaker at the UArizona Cognitive Science Colloquium Series on Friday, October 13, from noon to 1:30 p.m. Her talk will take place in Room 205 of the Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences Building (1131 E Second Street) and is also accessible on Zoom. The Cognitive Science Colloquium Series is a weekly event that brings the Cognitive Science students and faculty together to hear cutting-edge research.

In her presentation, Gender Differences in Competitiveness: The Role of Social Incentives, Mary will share her groundbreaking research, discuss the social incentives that close the gender competitiveness gap in several laboratory experiments, and explore the implications of the result for mechanism design in the labor market. Mary’s research has been covered by international media, and she was a featured speaker at the UArizona Wonder House at SXSW earlier this year.

Mary L. Rigdon at SXSW 2023

The conventional view among economists has long been that the persistent wage gap is due to an underlying competitiveness gap: simply, women are less competitive than men, and as a result, women pursue competitive careers at a lower rate than men, which would explain the wage gap since more competitive careers are more lucrative. 

As one of the foremost experts on this subject, Mary’s research challenges this narrative: women don’t have a lower desire to compete; they are motivated differently. As shown by her research, funded by the National Science Foundation and pursued with Alessandra Cassar, Professor of Economics at the University of San Francisco, women are just as competitive as men if incentives are structured to reflect these motivational differences. 

Mary’s work sets out to change perceptions about the gender wage gap, help explain why it persists, and, most importantly, explore how we can close it. Her message is, “Change the system, not the women.” Mary’s talk will tell you why.

For more information, contact Janet Nicol –