The Gender Gap in Self-Promotion

Office of Alumni and External Relations    2020-11-19

The Gender Gap in Self-Promotion

Guest: Christine Exley, Assistant Professor, Harvard Business School

Host: Li Shuwen, Assistant Professor, Antai

Time: Wednesday, Nov 25th, 2020, 09:00-10:30

Venue: AB716, Antai Building, Zoom


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.


After earning her Ph.D. in economics at Stanford University, Christine Exley joined Harvard Business School as an assistant professor. Her research interests are driven by a desire to better understand inequality and how to counter inequality. Her first research strand investigates how to direct help to those in need via the encouragement of charitable giving and volunteering. Her second research strand examines how to counter gender gaps in economic outcomes.

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