NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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The Gender Gap in Self-Promotion

Christine L. Exley, Judd B. Kessler

NBER Working Paper No. 26345
Issued in October 2019, Revised in June 2020
NBER Program(s):Economics of Education, Labor Studies

In applications, interviews, performance reviews, and many other environments, individuals are explicitly asked or implicitly invited to evaluate their own performance and ability. In a series of experiments, involving over 4,000 participants, we find that women evaluate their performance less favorably than equally performing men. This gender gap in self-evaluations is notably persistent. It persists when we fully inform individuals about their absolute and relative performance (closing any gender gap in performance beliefs) and when we eliminate financial consequences of self-evaluations (removing incentives to distort self-evaluations). It is robust to providing information about the average self-evaluations of others and to introducing a chance that true performance will be revealed. However, there is no gap when men and women evaluate others rather than themselves, suggesting the gender gap is specifically driven by evaluating oneself. Given that self-evaluations of performance and ability can affect myriad economic outcomes, this gender gap may contribute to persistent gender gaps in educational and labor market environments.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26345

 
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