AAAI Publications, Eleventh International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media

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Are There Gender Differences in Professional Self-Promotion? An Empirical Case Study of LinkedIn Profiles Among Recent MBA Graduates
Kristen M. Altenburger, Rajlakshmi De, Kaylyn Frazier, Nikolai Avteniev, Jim Hamilton

Last modified: 2017-05-03


Women are more modest than men in expressing accomplishments, referred to as the “feminine modesty effect”. Given the importance of highlighting accomplishments and skills for professional advancement, our research revisits the classical question of equal opportunity with a modern dataset to examine how women leverage LinkedIn, a professional social networking site. We first apply propensity score matching methods to identify a subset of similarly qualified female and male U.S. users who recently graduated/will be graduating (2011-2017) from a top-ranked MBA program as indicated on their LinkedIn profile. We then analyze gender differences in online self-promotion choices, an often overlooked aspect of understanding the role of gender in the professional hiring pipeline. Among matched subsets of female and male users, we find that females are less likely relative to males to utilize data fields that require writing in free-form such as the Summary and Job Description fields. However, we find for most universities that females and males are equally likely to include more structured data fields such as Honors and Skills, and for some universities females are more likely to include at least one Skill. This work begins to quantify gender biases in user-provided data and introduces important considerations for how self-presentation choices affect professional opportunity in online hiring platforms.

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