Anyone working in tech will know the type: the mini-Elon Musk. The young man who thinks that his brilliant idea is going to be the next Uber, Spotify or Tesla. He presents himself with confidence and assurance, but you suspect that, deep down, he has no idea what he is talking about.

There are, of course, women of this type as well. And we certainly shouldn’t (based on a few anecdotes) draw conclusions about men and women as a whole.

That’s where researchers can contribute: to find out whether men are, in general, overly-confident in their own abilities and how this relates to their pay. Investigating this issue, Adina Sterling and her colleagues at Stanford started by looking at how ‘self-efficacy’ of men and women in comparison with their University grades. Self-efficacy was measured by asking study participants how confident they are in their ability to develop products; build prototypes and mathematical models; and construct technological systems. …


David Sumpter

Professor of Applied Mathematics. Books: The Ten Equations (2020); Outnumbered (2018); Soccermatics (2016) and Collective Animal Behavior (2010).

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