Overconfidence dictates who will get the “top jobs,” and research shows that men benefit more than women

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There has been a steady stream of popular literature in recent years telling women to “recline“Be more confident, and don’t worry about”Impostor syndrome. “

On the other hand, men are often seen as such Overconfidence compared to women. our Recent research It shows that they are 19% more likely to self-rate their abilities higher than they really are – and this difference can actually affect the career outcomes of men and women.

We already know that women do, too Less likely to make a partner in law firms And Access to leadership positions in the company. But roles such as CEO, production manager, police officer, lawyer, and doctor tend to be well-paid and secure. The overrepresentation of men in such jobs may be an important driver of labor market inequality such as the gender pay gap.

Our research It shows that 24% of men versus 16% of women hold such “senior jobs” at the age of 42. It also indicates that the factors leading to this trend already begin to appear in adolescence. In fact, we believe our study is one of the first to link overconfidence picked up in adolescence to real mid-career labor market outcomes.

We used data on approximately 3,600 people born in Great Britain taking part in the 1970 British Cohort Study. This means that we can follow them from their birth into the labor market and get information about their family background, the circumstances in which they were raised, and the life choices they make.

We constructed a measure of overconfidence using their test scores on a set of cognitive assessments taken at ages five, ten and sixteen. We compared this to the data they provided to assess their ability in several areas. We found that overconfident people were more likely, on average, to be in top jobs at age 42 than similar adults who did not overestimate their talents according to our measure of overconfidence.

When it comes to explaining the gender gap in senior jobs, our measure of overconfidence accounts for as much as 11% of the 8 percentage point gender gap in senior jobs at age 42 (with men taking on more of these senior jobs). These results highlight the importance of overconfidence in anticipating such accomplishments, but also provide insight into the factors that influence levels of job-related confidence.

Trust Factors: University, Industry, and Children

Once we factored in college attendance and subject matter, our measure of overconfidence explained 6% of the gender gap for senior positions. This shows the importance of success in school and Choose a university subject The enterprise will pave the way to a senior position by mid-career.

Indeed, university participation and subject choice are very important, according to our findings. The gender gap in senior positions is significantly greater among graduates (15 percentage points) than among non-graduates (6.5 percentage points), while the role of overconfidence was more significant for those who attended university.

For example, male graduates were 58% more likely than female graduates to be in a top job in a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) field, and 34% more likely to be in a top job in law, economics, and management (LEM). Interestingly, while overconfidence explained 12% of the gender gap for senior roles at LEM, it was not significant for STEM senior positions. This may be due to the more technical nature of these jobs compared to those in the LEM.

Aside from industry, other factors also seem to contribute to occupational gender gaps. Not surprisingly, having children is a big deal. With many adults with families with children still living at home by middle age, working moms were 27% less likely than working dads to have a senior job by mid-career. However, overconfidence did not explain any of this gender gap. This indicates that women are more likely than men to change their work patterns once they start a family.

How employers can help

research It highlights the extent to which men are more likely to evaluate their abilities positively and communicate this to others. And since overconfident people may present themselves more often and sooner for promotions, this exacerbates the gender gap for senior positions.

So, our findings suggest that employers should rethink how they recruit and promote people. Employers can provide regular performance-based feedback and encourage women to apply for promotions sooner than they might choose to on their own, for example. This is particularly important for LEM functions as we have found that overconfidence explains the largest part of the gender gap.

As overconfidence loses its importance among those who have children, it is evident that the lack of childcare and flexibility in the workplace remains a major impediment to career advancement for women.

Asking women to “engage” or engage in confidence-building interventions is not the answer. focus on Impostor syndrome Or the fact that women are not confident in themselves puts the burden of change on their shoulders. Instead, we all need to find ways to change the system.