And men? This says it all, really:
“I think that’s really interesting,” Brescoll said with a laugh, “because the men go into everything just assuming that they’re awesome and thinking, who wouldn't want me?" . . . Ernesto Reuben, a professor at Columbia Business School, has come up with a term for this phenomenon: honest overconfidence. In a study he published in 2011, men consistently rated their performance on a set of math problems to be about 30 percent better than it was.
I'm thinking about how this plays out in the academic world.
- We've all talked about how women take on too much service, and it's well known that women take longer to get from associate to full professor than men do. From the article (though not about academia): "Women applied for a promotion only when they met 100 percent of the qualifications. Men applied when they met 50 percent."
- In some cases this "dot every i, cross every t" syndrome make be justified, since women may be implicitly held to higher standards.
- Is the service component a place where it's possible to achieve some kind of perfection, whereas having enough publications is a constantly moving target? I'm speculating, but couldn't that be true?
- Are we socializing our students in these gendered ways? When we're preparing them for an interview (a job interview, a med school interview), do we encourage men and women equally to be direct, to challenge an interviewer if needed, and to speak up?
- Does this apply to classes, too? Are the students who speak out with confidence even if they're wrong male and the hesitant ones female? I haven't seen that in my classes, but I wonder if more study would show this.
- There's such a premium on being smart in academia, where the highest accolade is "That was a really smart talk" or "She wrote a really smart book." Does this mean that women are more afraid of being thought a fool than men are?
- How does this confidence gap intersect with those who were bullied as children, especially those who were bullied because they were intelligent or bookish? For example, what if you kept your mouth shut when you knew answers in class because you knew that you would be bullied and made miserable by a gang of girls once recess rolled around? That seems less like a lack of confidence than an urgent desire not to be picked on.