STUDY: Men puff up their success on LinkedIn, while women undersell themselves

When it comes to self-promotion, men have an advantage. LinkedIn’s analysis of millions of its U.S. member profiles found that men brag far more than women do when talking about their work experience.

Men brag about their successes

U.S. men on LinkedIn use their profiles to shine the stories of their careers in the most positive light. LinkedIn said “men tend to skew their professional brands to highlight more senior-level experience, often removing junior-level roles altogether.” In other words, they talk about their jobs at the biggest and most famous companies in the world, and leave off their humble beginnings. It makes men appear as if they sprung, fully formed, into a successful career.

Men, who had larger networks overall than women, were also found to be more aggressive about tooting their horn and touting their skills.

Women don’t brag about their successes —with good reason

Meanwhile, women kept it short and simple on their profiles, even to the point of underselling the accomplishments they had earned.

They had shorter profiles summaries than men. And even when they had similar jobs and skill levels, LinkedIn said women would still include 11% less of their skills than men on their profiles.

Women are putting themselves at a networking disadvantage when they don’t talk about their successes. These absences on their profiles add up and have far-reaching consequences for networking success. Workers use LinkedIn to network for jobs and new opportunities. LinkedIn said the people who had five or more skills got 17 times more profiles views. One of those views could lead to a connection, or a message, or even a job.

But they could be keeping mum because they recognize what gender bias research has found: women who act assertive, tough, and self-confident —traits that are traditionally seen as “masculine”— face backlash at work and have a harder time getting a promotion. Women may not being bragging like men because they feel like they would be penalized for it — and research shows they’re not wrong.

Women are also likely to avoid job listings with “aggressive” words and undersell their own talents, as studies have noted: even the wording of job ads can drive qualified women away.

Women need to self-advocate for their success to get that promotion, or a new job. No one knows you’re doing a good job unless you tell them and remind them. But we also need a culture that’s accepting of their success to welcome them.