The confidence gap between men and women

When employers are looking at self-performance reviews, they are more likely to hire those who rate themselves higher—men.

 The way employees view their work performance varies depending on a number of factors, but Judd Kessler has his sights set on just one: gender.

Kessler, an associate professor of business economics and public policy at Wharton, co-authored a study with Christine Exley of Harvard Business School exploring whether there’s a gender difference in how men and women rate themselves in self-reported work performance reviews. 

cartoon of a businessman whose shadow is flexing very large biceps

“What we’ve seen in the literature on gender and economics is that there are gender gaps in lots of work-related behaviors,” says Kessler. “We thought one of the areas that had not been explored, but we think is very important for work settings, is how women and men describe their work performance or (how they rate) how good they are at their jobs in either performance reviews or in casual conversations with colleagues or superiors. We’re looking to see if there’s evidence of a gender gap in self-promotion.

“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.”

Read more at The Wharton School.