An in-depth piece in the Atlantic this week delved into the issue of what’s really holding women back from becoming top earners and competitors in their fields. The surprisingly simple reason turns out to be not  the lack of accessibility (though it can be a factor), but of confidence.

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

The shortage of female confidence is increasingly well quantified and well documented. In 2011, the Institute of Leadership and Management, in the United Kingdom, surveyed British managers about how confident they feel in their professions. Half the female respondents reported self-doubt about their job performance and careers, compared with fewer than a third of male respondents.

  • boo

    Give me a break. The study was done on students…seriously! Try doing some research on women in the workplace. This research is very myopic.

    • sandro

      go read the original article boo, they’ve just pulled out one reference from it.

  • Lisa

    Maybe women aren’t as confident because when there is a confident woman who takes leadership, she is labeled as bossy. So a good start into fixing this problem is maybe treating women better in the workplace and not cut them down.

    • Eliza Sweater

      Completely agree. The issue at hand has much more to do with the social constructs that drive society. Should we really be measuring confidence, or how people perceive successful women at large?

  • wearesmartethanthis

    Is confidence worth 22% more (on average) probably not – there is a systematic problem that organizations feel it’s ok to offer and pay women less (even when all else is equal) and often women have to work harder for the lesser pay to “prove” themselves. Overestimating abilities – doesn’t really net out – perhaps its the inability for people to assess what is real and what is just bombastic claims.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    Consider also that women tend to stay in their careers for less time than men: retiring earlier to raise children holds women from reaching the same level of average seniority than men thus resulting in a lower average salary. Also women on average are less available for extra hours and travel.

  • Tanya Geisler

    Our confidence gets chipped away at by the Impostor Complex (both men and women experience it, but manage it differently). I spoke of Impostor –> Authority here. May it shine more light on the subject.

  • Karsus

    Confidence isn’t just a meaningless variable. Its something that’s expressed in all manner of life decisions. Someone willing to take risks isn’t going to do it once, he’s going to do it a thousand times. And when you negotiate pay… you negotiate based on what you think you’re worth and what you plan to offer (like working eighty hour weeks if need be).

  • Karsus

    Women’s leadership style not being as commanding, and being seen as bossy… I think much of the objection to that style comes from women. Even if guys see a female manager as bossy – I’m not sure it really matters, as long as she projects competence.

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