Public speaking is an important skill for career prospects and for leadership positions, but many people tend to avoid it. We run a field experiment to analyze whether in an incentivized setting men and women show differences in their willingness to speak in public. The experiment involved more than 500 undergraduates who could gain two points to add to the final grade of their exam by presenting solutions to a set problem orally. Students were randomly assigned to give a presentation to the instructor only or in front of a large audience (a class of 100 or more). We find that while women are more willing to do a face-to-face presentation, they are considerably less likely to give a public presentation. We show that female aversion to public speaking does not depend on differences in ability or other psychological attitudes. Such an aversion seems considerably less marked for daughters of working women. The aversion to public speaking cannot be interpreted as strategic avoidance deriving from women anticipating their poor performance in this specific task. From survey data we also show that neither increasing the gains deriving from public speaking nor allowing participants more time to prepare lessens the gender gap.

Do Women Shy Away from Public Speaking? A Field Experiment

De Paola M.
;
Lombardo R.;Pupo V.;Scoppa V.
2021

Abstract

Public speaking is an important skill for career prospects and for leadership positions, but many people tend to avoid it. We run a field experiment to analyze whether in an incentivized setting men and women show differences in their willingness to speak in public. The experiment involved more than 500 undergraduates who could gain two points to add to the final grade of their exam by presenting solutions to a set problem orally. Students were randomly assigned to give a presentation to the instructor only or in front of a large audience (a class of 100 or more). We find that while women are more willing to do a face-to-face presentation, they are considerably less likely to give a public presentation. We show that female aversion to public speaking does not depend on differences in ability or other psychological attitudes. Such an aversion seems considerably less marked for daughters of working women. The aversion to public speaking cannot be interpreted as strategic avoidance deriving from women anticipating their poor performance in this specific task. From survey data we also show that neither increasing the gains deriving from public speaking nor allowing participants more time to prepare lessens the gender gap.
Field Experiment
Gender
Glass Ceiling
Leadership
Psychological Gender differences
Public Speaking
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11770/326477
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