Gender Confidence Gap

‘If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman’. – Margaret Thatcher

Women have most of the features of a good leader. This is a fact. They are more democratic, possess effective problem-solving competences, empathy, and ethics, and are great team-players, promoters, and role models.

However, statistics according to the World Economic Forum stated that only 5 percent CEOs are women, only 5 percent of the richest billionaires are women, 6 percent of S&P 500 companies have women CEOs and only 20 percent of Fortune 500 board members are women!

When you compare both these sets of information, something doesn’t add up, right?

Over the years, I have coached both men and women and appreciate the similarities and differences between both genders. However, I have observed that females are very competitive and despite their high performance they lack belief in themselves, simply they tend to be less confident than men!

Hewlett-Packard discovered through their personnel records, that women applied for a promotion only when they believed they met 100 per cent of the qualifications listed for the job, versus the men who applied when they met 50 per cent.

Yet we women can change this by taking steps to own our power. Here are four ways how:

  1. “Ask”

I once found out that a female employee was upset that she didn’t get a promotion. I was surprised because I did not even realise that she wanted the job. She said that her work should speak for itself and that the manager should have known she wanted the job. He had given the job to another employee who asked for the promotion. That colleague was a man. It was a shame her manager wasn’t aware she wanted the job as she would have been an excellent candidate.

Encourage your team repeatedly to ask for what they want. Keep all channels of communication open and tell your team repeatedly: “If you want something, ask for it.”

  1. Own your strengths.

Research shows that the better you know yourself, you are more likely to achieve your goals.

Note what motivates you, inspires passion and creativity into your working day. Also, notice the things you struggle with or drain your energy. As you find that honest picture of your capabilities, you’ll be able to partner with people whose skills balance your own so you can drive results within your organisation.

  1. Get comfortable with disappointment.

Most of the time we find women try to defeat their frustration or anger over professional setbacks and disappointments. However, these moments are the best ones as it teaches you the most.

When you don’t get what you believe you deserve, sit back and learn from it. Reflect on how you can do better next time.

  1. Envision your future.

One of the best stimuluses for self-praise is visualising where you want your career to be five years from now. You won’t get where you want to be by hiding in the corner and hoping to be noticed. You will need to have a clear vision and take concrete steps to build your talent.

I believe true confidence is the ability to be willingly vulnerable and honest in any situation and it’s those qualities we are more likely to respond to and aspire to, especially in the workplace. Being able to admit misjudging a situation or being wrong in front of a room full of mates is the ultimate display of confidence for me.

In summary, in order to change our perception of ourselves and those of others, let us take simple actions, like always actively participating in meetings, brainstorming sessions or new projects at work. Speak up, even if you don’t feel like it, and as you start to find your voice, your confidence will grow, and it will be noticed that you have opinions to be listened to. Once you have found your voice it’s easier to speak up for your achievements, to celebrate the achievements of others, and to start to challenge the status quo.

So put your hand up for the next project, promotion or pay rise.


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