The simple, damning difference between women’s and men’s profiles on LinkedIn

Women are conditioned to avoid boasting about their skills.
Women are conditioned to avoid boasting about their skills.
Image: Reuters/Robert Galbraith
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It’s no secret that gender bias affects everything from job applications to interviews to everyday office life. A new study shows that sexist norms also infiltrate the way men and women present themselves on LinkedIn.

The behemoth professional networking site recently analyzed over 141 million profiles of its US members to unearth discrepancies in how men and women depict themselves online. The results? Women promote themselves and their successes a lot less than men do.

The report includes several specific findings:

“Men tend to skew their professional brands to highlight more senior-level experience, often removing junior-level roles altogether.

Women are more likely to have shorter profile summaries.

In the US, women on average include 11% less skills than men on their LinkedIn profile, even at similar occupations and experience levels.”

As LinkedIn explains, these discrepancies can have a real impact. On average, LinkedIn members with five or more skills receive up to 17 times more profile views than members with less than five skills on their profiles.

Posting your professional skills can feel silly. I’ll admit that though my LinkedIn skills (which include “blogging,” “editing,” and “public speaking”) are a bit limited, I hesitate to create a laundry list for fear of looking self-absorbed or cocky. This isn’t surprising: Ample research shows that, from childhood, women are socialized to be less self-assured than men. But it’s an instinct that’s worth fighting. Beefing up LinkedIn profiles won’t resolve professional bias, but it’s an easy step in the right direction.