Discussion paper

DP15621 Self-image Bias and Lost Talent

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.


Siniscalchi, M and P Veronesi (2020), ‘DP15621 Self-image Bias and Lost Talent‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 15621. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp15621