The confidence gap between men and women is not a myth. Women have always abided by the norms of society and in time, they forgot how to build confidence.
Living in a gender-biased society, the confidence gap has slowly deteriorated in some societies. Instead of belittling women, we now motivate them to become their own people. The case isn’t the same in every other society, some still have a long way to go. But to say there hasn’t been any progress at all is simply a lie.
Starting from the days when women were treated as incubators to women running for president and PM, we’ve witnessed a lot of changes. We’ve learned how to build confidence and slowly get rid of the confidence gap.
Sometimes, unconsciously, we automatically go back to assuming that we should be the ones to sacrifice purely out of habit. Whether it’s just being polite or actually wanting to do it, we notice a difference between how men and women perceive things. This, again, is the confidence gap playing its part.
What is the confidence gap and why do women need to learn how to build confidence?
The confidence gap is the fact that women are less self-assured than men. And in order to achieve success, confidence plays a part as important as competence. Science has proven that he confidence gap does exist.
All the myths about women being hesitant when talking during meetings, applying for jobs and overall in every sphere of life is true. Men do have more confidence than women and we need to teach more women how to build confidence since we make up half of the world’s workforce.
According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the confidence gap exists in 48 countries. The study suggests that genetic differences and cross-cultural sociocultural differences are possible sources of the confidence gap.
With patriarchy still in the lead, the wage gap has played a part in showing women they’re inferior to men. Another study showed that women who make less money than their male coworkers are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression.
The study also shows that gender stereotypes contribute to the confidence gap. The idea behind that is that women are considered feminine and are either greatly praised for it or completely devalued. If it weren’t for social norms, femininity might not have been a factor in the issue.
Media’s depiction on how women should look like is another reason why the confidence gap exists. In the first few pages of a magazine, there are multiple self-help articles on how to build confidence, and then the rest of the issue is on dieting, losing weight, and how a real woman should look like.
According to Yahoo Health, men are more happy and content with their bodies than women. Due to media’s negative effect on women’s body image, women are taught to believe that their bodies are their self-worth.
There is a higher confidence gap in industrialized developed countries, indicating that women need to learn how to build confidence there more
According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the confidence gap is larger in countries that have high GDP per capita, Human Development Index, and age of marriage.
A theory suggests that the confidence gap is higher in countries that offer better conditions for women because women are more likely to compare themselves to men when they have relatively equality rights. This theory shows that women’s inferiority is highlighted in developed countries, which leads them to stereotype themselves.
Bleidorn, one of the co-authors of the book said: “I can speculate that in Western societies, women are more likely to compare themselves to men. Men tend to have higher-status positions and higher salaries, for example, so the comparison is less favorable for women.”
This theory is explained by the fact that women are more likely to blame themselves when they’re not as successful as men when there is less inequality in their society. Developed countries also tend to focus more on their perception of feminine beauty. The emphasis of women’s body image in greater in developed countries, leading to women feeling less and less confident.
A report by the National Bureau of Economic Research showed that women are less likely to negotiate their salaries than men. Another report by Hewlett Packard said that women are less willing to apply for jobs they’re not fully qualified for. Studies have shown that women continuously underestimate themselves and need to take steps to learn how to build confidence.
In Asian countries, women are more likely to compare themselves to other women rather than men. Due to the fact that achieving equality in Asian countries is a long shot in the near future, competing with other women shows that both sides have fair grounds.
What is the solution to the confidence gap? Is it as easy as simply learning how to build confidence?
Certified executive coach and principal of Communication Matters Carol Vernon has plenty to say on how the confidence gap affects people and the solution to it. Comprising about 75% of the association and nonprofit workforce, women hold only 45% of the top leadership positions.
Since women tend to hold back and play safe, they contribute less and less. Women take less credit for their hard work and attribute it to luck. First things first, women should speak out more often and become better communicators to get the message across, says Vernon.
To hold senior-leadership roles, women must not only use words to communicate but also nonverbal language and day-to-day actions. By not sending a message, women send signals that discourage other women from motivating others and themselves.
Regardless of what we choose, we need to leverage our strengths, get help from others in the areas we’re not strong in, and intentionally and regularly seek out opportunities. We need our most senior leaders, male and female, to lead workplace cultures that actively support, mentor, and provide opportunities for women at all levels, so that when women do speak up, they do it from a place of competency and show up confidently.
So, who’s going to close the confidence gap? Millennials. Many studies have suggested that the millennials mentality is more progressed and open than the previous generations. Millennials are more educated and confident and can easily motivate others to teach them how to build confidence.
Many of today’s rising women leaders are actively seeking out ways to contribute more to their organizations. 51% of millennial women, compared to 61% of millennial men, say they feel they will be able to rise to the top of their respective organizations. Because millennial women will comprise about 25% of the global workforce by 2020, this can mean good things for the association community.
The Confidence Gap by Russ Harris is a book that guides you learn how to build confidence
The author Russ Harris is a physician and a therapist. Throughout his professional life, he has had many clients who didn’t go after their dreams because they didn’t have the little push they needed. They lacked confidence.
He himself used to be one of those people. He indulged himself in alcohol in fear of failure and social situations. His anxiety and self-doubt was so intense that he started drinking when he was studying in medical school, eventually avoiding his classes and failing all his exams during his first 2 years there.
He gradually got better and got his life back on track. He found new hobbies and started writing books. Another hobby he found was having speeches. This way, his confidence was greatly boosted. In his book The Confidence Gap, Harris shares a lot of his personal experiences and a number of anecdotes. The book also features various techniques people can use to build confidence.
The Confidence Gap is divided into 5 parts: Warming up, The Double-Edged Sword, What Gets You Going, Taming Your Fear, Playing The Game. Harris tackles multiple issues. He starts by explaining why people have no self-confidence and how people should deal with their negative thoughts.
He explains that you don’t have to force or pretend to be a positive person, but instead, he says that negative thoughts are not inherently problematic. He continues explaining how your values and ideologies shape your confidence as they guide you to have a fulfilling life.
In the final chapters of the book, the author shows that being afraid isn’t always against you, but you can use it to your advantage. He advises that instead of fighting your fears, you should let it in, befriend and channel it. He concludes the book by saying that feeling confident isn’t going to happen at once, you have to play the part of a confident person first.
The actions of confidence come first, the feelings of confidence will come later.
“So let’s take this opportunity to clarify something: I am not ever going to ask you to “fake” anything or to “put up” with unwanted feelings. Quite the opposite, in fact. Two important themes in this book are being true to yourself (as opposed to being “fake”) and handling fear ineffective, life-enhancing ways (as opposed to “putting up with it”).”
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