Study Finds a Widespread Gender Gap in Self-Promotion That May Impact Hiring Decisions and Promotions

A study by Christine Exley of Harvard Business School and Judd Kessler of The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania finds that when employers are looking at self-performance reviews, they are more likely to hire those who rate themselves higher. And men tend to rate themselves higher than women.

Subjects were asked to answer 20 questions from the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. There was no gender difference in performance – actually the women did a little better. Dr. Kessler stated that “then we asked the men and women, ‘How well did you do on the test that you just took?’ When participants were asked to ‘rate yourself on a scale of one to 100’, men averaged 61 and women averaged 45. It’s 15-point difference on this hundred-point scale for people who did basically the same. And, in fact, the women did slightly better.”

Dr. Kessler added that “we spend a lot of the work in the paper trying to understand, ‘What is going on? Why is there this gender difference?’ One thing is confidence. Maybe we can eliminate that confidence gap if we can tell women, ‘On average, you did better than men.’ Maybe we can get that gap to go away.”

The authors conclude that “because of the prevalence of self-promotion opportunities, this self-promotion gap may contribute to persistent gender gaps in education and labor market outcomes.”

The study, “The Gender Gap in Self-Promotion,” is a working paper of the National Bureau of Economic Research. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/Study


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