In 2023, just 10% of Fortune 500 CEOs were women, and that was a record high. Why?

Economists have advanced the idea that women are less competitive than men, and that this can help explain why there is a persistent gender wage gap. Women are less likely to negotiate higher salaries, ask for well-deserved pay raises, apply for promotions even when fully qualified, and shy away from male-dominated, higher-paying positions.

Challenging conventional wisdom and the status quo, Mary L. Rigdon, Freedom Center Director and Associate Professor of Political Economy & Moral Science at the University of Arizona, has become one of the foremost experts on gender competitiveness and the wage gap. Her research, funded by the National Science Foundation and pursued with Alessandra Cassar, Professor of Economics at the University of San Francisco, debunks the gender competitiveness myth. Women don’t have a lower desire to compete but are motivated differently.

Their latest research explores the role of social incentives to tap women’s natural competitiveness, which organizations can use to develop recruitment, compensation, and reward strategies to help close the persistent wage and opportunity gap. “We need to change the system, not the women,” Mary asserts.

Mary will detail this groundbreaking work and its implications in a talk titled “Understanding Competitiveness and the Gender Wage Gap” at three upcoming events:

  • National Science Foundation – Social and Behavioral Sciences Distinguished Lecture Seminar Series on February 1 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. (EST).
  • Council for Economic Education Invest in Girls Program, Keynote on February 13.
  • Arizona Department of Economic Security Team – Women’s History Month speaker series themed “Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion” on March 27.

Mary’s research has been cited by the World Economic Forum as one of fifteen strategies helping to close the gender wage gap around the world, and it has been covered by national and international media. She was a featured speaker at the 2023 UArizona Wonder House at SXSW. You can read more about this research:

Stay tuned for more details on these exciting events.

Mary L. Rigdon at SXSW 2023
Mary L. Rigdon at the UArizona Wonder House at SXSW in 2023.