The Confidence Gap

Are you confident?

Let me ask it again.

Are you as confident as your male counterpart next to you?

Confidence is something I constantly struggle with in my career. If I am overconfident, I may be viewed as too pushy or aggressive. If I I am not confident enough, I may not get the results. In my first review at my job one year ago, my boss noted I needed to be more confident. At a recent lunch with a mentor, he told me “you need to be more confident. You are good. Don’t be afraid.”

“Evidence shows that women are less self-assured than men—and that to succeed, confidence matters as much as competence. Here’s why, and what to do about it.” – The Confidence Gap, The Atlantic

I don’t like to brag about myself. I believe if you work hard, you will get noticed and rewarded.

Kathy Kay and Claire Shipman are the authors of The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance- What Women Should Know. Both agree you need to work hard and be confident about your work and abilities.

I’ve learned talking about your accomplishments is a tight line to walk. I myself have not even come close to mastering it. I did extremely well in school because there were rules. You were graded upon metrics chosen at the beginning of the term.

“If life were one long grade school, women would be the undisputed rulers of the world.”

I’ve noticed when I or my only other female counterpart on my team speak up at meetings, we get viewed negatively. When the men speak up, suddenly, their ideas are great.

“If a woman speaks up first at meetings, she risks being disliked or even—let’s be blunt—being labeled a bitch.”

What happens when I don’t feel confident?

The natural result of low confidence is inaction. When women hesitate because we aren’t sure, we hold ourselves back.

The last thing I want to do is do nothing!

In studies, men overestimate their abilities and performance, and women underestimate both. Their performances do not differ in quality.

The article focuses on the why women are not as confident and some of the results.

I know I have to fight my upbringing every day. I was raised to listen, to follow directions, and to sit quietly like a lady.

I do not agree. I do not agree men are better than me. I believe we are equals. Actually, if history has any indication, I have outcompeted my male counterparts. I have better focus and more motivation.  Yet today, I have to fight everyday the urge to bury myself under blankets.

This is an issue for every single on of us, even if you are a guy. Why? Because you may have a daughter, or a sister, or a girlfriend, and you definitely have a mother. We should encourage all women to speak for themselves. To be confident about their strengths and weaknesses. It’s the only way to succeed.

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