The Gender Gap in Self-Promotion

86 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2019

See all articles by Christine L Exley

Christine L Exley

Harvard University

Judd B. Kessler

University of Pennsylvania - Business & Public Policy Department

Date Written: October 2019


In applications, interviews, performance reviews, and many other environments, individuals are explicitly asked or implicitly invited to assess their own performance. In a series of experiments, we find that women rate their performance less favorably than equally performing men. This gender gap in self-promotion is notably persistent. It stays just as strong when we: eliminate gender differences in confidence about performance, eliminate incentives to self-promote, provide information about the average self-promotion of others, and make environments more ambiguous. Because of the prevalence of self-promotion opportunities, this self-promotion gap may contribute to persistent gender gaps in education and labor market outcomes.

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Suggested Citation

Exley, Christine L and Kessler, Judd B., The Gender Gap in Self-Promotion (October 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w26345, Available at SSRN:

Christine L Exley (Contact Author)

Harvard University ( email )

Judd B. Kessler

University of Pennsylvania - Business & Public Policy Department ( email )

3641 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6372
United States

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