The signals we give: Performance feedback, gender, and competition
76 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2023
Date Written: November 16, 2023
Feedback is a vital tool used by organizations and educators to improve performance, spark learning, and foster individual growth. Yet, anecdotal evidence suggests that many individuals are hesitant to provide others with feedback. Moreover, gender biases may influence its provision, with consequences for the representation of women in leadership and competitive professions. We study feedback provision under different conditions that vary the precision and valence of performance signals, their instrumentality, and gender of the recipient. Our results reveal that a substantial degree of feedback is obscured. Moreover, negative feedback is more likely to be obscured from women in conditions characterized both by a lack of complete information about performance, and feedback that is not immediately instrumental for the recipient's decision-making. This effect is driven by male advisors. Our findings showcase how gender biases can arise in feedback provision, and highlight when these biases may be more likely to appear.
Keywords: Feedback provision, gender, belief utility, competitiveness, discrimination
JEL Classification: C90, D83, D91, J16, M54
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation