The Gender Gap in Self-Promotion

Produced by: 
National Bureau of Economic Research
Available from: 
October 2019
Paper author(s): 
Christine L. Exley
Judd B. Kessler
Topic: 
Gender Economics
Year: 
2021

In applications, interviews, performance reviews, and many other environments, individuals subjectively describe their ability and performance to others. We run a series of experiments, involving over 4,000 participants from online labor markets and over 10,000 school-aged youth. We find a large gender gap in self-promotion: Women subjectively describe their ability and performance to potential employers less favorably than equally performing men. Even when all incentives to promote are removed, however, the gender gap remains. The gender gap in self-promotion is reflective of an underlying gender gap in how individuals subjectively evaluate their own performance. This underlying gender gap proves persistent and arises as early as the sixth grade.

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