DP15621 Self-image Bias and Lost Talent

Author(s): Marciano Siniscalchi, Pietro Veronesi
Publication Date: January 2021
Date Revised: March 2021
Keyword(s): affirmative action, Gender Discrimination, mentorship, self-image bias
JEL(s): A11, J16, J7
Programme Areas: Labour Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=15621

We propose an overlapping-generation model wherein researchers belong to two groups, M or F, and established researchers evaluate new researchers. Group imbalance obtains even with group-neutral evaluations and identical productivity distributions. Evaluators' self-image bias and mild between-group heterogeneity in equally productive research characteristics lead the initially dominant group, say M, to promote scholars with characteristics similar to theirs. Promoted F-researchers are few and similar to M-researchers, perpetuating imbalance. Candidates' career concerns and institutions' hiring practices exacerbate talent loss. Mentorship reduces group imbalance, but increases F-group talent loss. Affirmative action reduces both. Our mechanism explains existing evidence and suggests different policies.