The "Confidence Gap" That's Holding Women Back

5ReasonsMostDietsFailWithin7Days_sliders15
Despite the fact that women outnumber men in higher education and make up 50% of the American workforce, the glass ceiling remains fully intact. Women are still drastically underrepresented at the executive level — and, somehow, still get paid less than their male counterparts. Why? According to Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, authors of the new book The Confidence Code, it's all a matter of confidence. This week, The Atlantic's journalists tackle the question of why women are suffering what they call a "crisis of confidence" — and why it really, really matters.
Advertisement
Study after study suggests that, at least compared to their male coworkers, women have much lower levels of confidence in their professional abilities. 2003 research found that women tend to underestimate both their performance and their aptitude, while men consistently overestimate themselves on both counts. The study authors cited testimony from male executives and business school professors who "believed that a lack of confidence was fundamentally holding back women, but...had shied away from saying anything, because they were terrified of sounding sexist."
It's not just male managers who have noticed the problem; the authors also interviewed WNBA athletes, investment bankers, Silicon Valley execs, and other female superstars, all of whom reported feeling like "imposters" or that they didn't deserve their success.
What does the confidence gap mean in practical terms? The study suggests that confidence matters just as much as competence when it comes to professional advancement. Men are four times as likely as women to negotiate a higher salary, and they ask for 30% more money than their female counterparts. Men are also much more likely to apply for promotions than women — even if they don't satisfy the job requirements.
So, what can we do to close the gap? The authors suggest that we might be able to teach our brains to stop holding us back by actively silencing our inner critics. It would be cool to train ourselves to be bold and self-assured — but that seems easier said than done. (The Atlantic)
Advertisement

More from Mind

No one goes through life trying to be a horrible person. But sometimes, it's a challenge to go that extra mile (or even just a few steps) out of your way...
Living with anxiety can feel like a constant battle. You have to stay alert to catch anxiety creeping up on you, and it can turn into an all-day fight to ...
We explore the unconscious messages a voice can give off and why snap judgments can be harmful, even if they're innocent
(Paid Content) Taking short breaks during the workday can bring your sanity back to earth. Of course, they have a calming effect, but did you know breaks ...
It's not always easy to predict how much you're going to drink when you go out — or how drunk you'll actually get. And according to a new study, your ...
This story was originally published on May 19, 2016. A few years ago, I called my dad for one of our weekly chats — but he wasn’t happy to hear from me...
As much as it sucks, anxiety doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Without a little bit of it, you wouldn’t make sure to show up on time to that job interview or...
(Paid Content) Moods are fickle things. You can be going about your day in a happy, productive, and calm manner, and boom — everything changes. And ...
This story was originally published on May 19, 2016. I am six years old, in the first grade girls’ bathroom with my friend. We are washing our hands. ...
This story was originally published on Jul. 19, 2016. Several months ago, a woman I’m very close to checked herself into a hospital because she’d been ...
This article was originally published on May 27, 2015. Now that pot legislation is making its way across the country, it's time for a refresher on the ...
Depression is one of the most common mental-health issues in the United States, and it affects roughly twice as many women as men. Yet new research ...
On social media, it's easy to catch all sorts of digital diseases, such as FOMO, internet addiction, and anxiety. Facebook and Instagram-wary researchers...
As a culture, we have a slight tendency to exaggerate. We don’t just love PSLs — we’re obsessed. We aren’t just neat and tidy — we Kondo. Another term we ...