We conduct a lab experiment to assess whether gender of dictators and recipients, and distributional preferences affect allocations in a modified dictator game where both parties perform a cognitive task and the resulting pie to be split is the sum of both parties' earnings. Our key results are first, while on average all dictators keep more than their earned share of the pie, they display some respect for merit as the shares appropriated are correlated with their relative earnings. Second, male dictators appropriate a greater share of the pie than females and more is taken from known gender (male) recipients. Finally, most dictators can be classified as egalitarian, meritocratic or selfish. They invoke these fairness views in a situation-specific manner depending on their relative earning status and reveal self-serving biases.
gender distributive justice laboratory experiment India