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Experimental validation: How to decrease gender differences in self-evaluation and confidence in the future?

We measured the effect of 3 interventions to decrease the gap between women's and men's self-evaluations and confidence in the future.

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Comfama, one of the largest and most prominent "Cajas de Compensación Familiar" in Colombia.

Note: In Colombia, a "Caja de Compensación Familiar" or family compensation fund is a private entity that provides workers and their families with subsidies, health, education, culture and other services.

Context description:

The organization faced an underrepresentation of women in leadership positions. Among the causes, we identified that there are differences in the self-evaluations of women and men regarding their performance. We identified the need to change perceptions and implicit barriers that cause women to undervalue their performance and men to overvalue their performance. The goal was to level the self-evaluation of men and women with respect to their actual performances.

What we did:

To bring men's and women's self-evaluations closer to their actual performances, we designed an experiment that assessed the effect of three treatments on self-evaluations and confidence in the future. The experiment consisted of presenting different messages between taking a test and self-evaluations of test performance. To one group of participants we did not present any messages and measured the difference between actual performance and self-assessments (control group). To the second group we gave quantitative feedback on their performance. To the third group we gave feedback on the gender biases present in the self-assessments. The last group was given quantitative feedback on their performance + the message about the gender biases present in the self-assessments.


  • Behavioral Design.

  • Experimental validation (lab-in-the-field experiment).

Key Results:

  1. All interventions achieved a reduction in the gap between self-assessments and participants' actual performance.

  2. Quantitative performance feedback was the intervention that brought participants' self-assessments closest to their actual performance.

  3. Reporting self-assessment biases, without supplementing this information with quantitative feedback on actual performance, decreased participants' confidence in the future.

Insights for decision making:

The use of behavioral science-based interventions is crucial for improving self-assessments and strengthening confidence in the future professional. These interventions effectively address and modify perceptions and behaviors, facilitating significant progress in critical areas such as gender equity in the workplace. Solving major institutional challenges, such as the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions, requires multiple small changes within the overall career path process. Implementing these strategies based on a deep understanding of human behavior can lead to further transformations in organizational culture and practices.


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