We tried to examine scientifically what the factors were in the decision making process," said Jonathan Woon, associate professor of political science. Along with associate professor Kristin Kanthak, Woon enlisted 350 undergraduate Pitt students to participate in the lab experiments.

In the first phase, men and women were divided into random groups and given a task of adding up numbers. Participants solved as many addition problems as they wanted in a limited time and were paid for correct answers.

In the second phase, participants were asked if they were willing to represent the group. In it, participants earned 2/3 of their money through the addition problems answered correctly by their group leader and 1/3 through their own correctly answered questions.

In the second scenario, Kanthak and Woon said, men and women each volunteered to lead the group equally - about 80 percent of the time. In the final phase, the participants were asked to declare whether they wanted to be elected as the leader. They were told to run a short campaign and give a message to the group. Kanthak and Woon found that when a competitive election process was introduced, 78 percent of men chose to run but only 60 percent of women did.

"Women will volunteer to lead a group, Kanthak said, but are less likely than men to go through an actual competition or election to do so.""We also found that election aversion persists with variations in the electoral environment, disappearing only when campaigns are both costless and completely truthful," Kanthak added. The study on gender gap in political candidates was published in the American Journal of Political Science.

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