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The Confidence Gap for Women Working in Tech: What We Know and 8 Steps to Close the Gap

Posted by Apr 22, 2014 9:42:57 AM Ali Powell

Katy Kay, an Anchor for BBC World News America and Claire Shipman, a GMA Reporter wrote a book called The Confidence Code and this spurred a post called The Confidence Gap on The Atlantic. I read this post yesterday and it spurred some emotions in me that I thought deserved to be talked about more. 
Confidence as a woman...
Women are always questioning theirselves. Myself included. I question myself all the time and before reading this article I thought that I just was an anxious person. I never thought that the questioning had something to do with my confidence level in business. 
For some reason women still don't think they deserve things professionally. Women are still not sure how they got where they are. Women are not sure that they deserve the promotion that they are up for. Women are just not as confident or as sure of theirselves as men are. Why is this? 
Women are doubtful and they are unsure. The more I thought about this and the more I quesitoned myself of how confident I am professionally and personally. Am I confident? Am I sure of myself? 
I think I am a pretty confident person. Professionally and socially I think I am a confident lady. But, the more I tried to think about this, the more I was not so sure.
A couple things come to mind when I just think about my confidence level in my role as a sales person in the tech space. 
  • I still question myself if I am ready for something. 
  • I still question myself if I am doing a good job and deserve something more than my current role. 
  • I still have no idea why I don't think I am ready to be a manager or take on a larger role. What am I waiting for?
  • I have all the strengths and all the things that any man would think they need to be "ready" for a bigger job. I still hold back and say things like - I want to learn more, or I need more time before I am ready to do that...(men don't think this way). 

Why? Why do I hold myself back? 

I bet I am not alone and bet other women out there do this too. I think this has to do with a lack of confidence in myself and feeling like I am not ready for it. Even though I probably am ready for it. 

Women need to be aware that data shows that success correlates just as closely with confidence as it does with competence. 

There is good news though. Confidence is something that can be learned and taught. It is something that we can directly impact and therefore by becoming more confident we as women can start to close the gap. 

Here are 8 things that we as women can do TODAY to help to close the confidence gap?

confidence-11. We should stop underestimating our abilities

2. Go for  promotions even when you don't have 100 % of the qualifications of the role. Go for them earlier than you think you should have. 

Men will apply for the same role or job when they only meet about 60 percent of the qualifications of the job. If we as women are more apt to apply for jobs where maybe we don't have 100 percent of the qualfiications we will get more women into roles where typically men are just applying. 

3. We don't need to be perfect all the time. 

4. Believe in yourself. 

You need to try if you want to get somewhere. If you don't try then you never know what will happen. Do not opt out. Opt yourself in and try to get that job, that project, etc. If you don't try and you don't believe in yourself then you will never know what you are capable of. 

5. Remember the saying- "fake it till you make it"?! confidence_in_women

There is something to this statement. People who display theirselves as confident are more likely to be viewed as knowing what they are doing. They are more likely to be viewed as good at something. Whether they are actually good or not  is sometimes irrelevant. I have seen this first hand. I am a sales person and a woman. I am lucky to be outspoken and I am lucky to be good at what I do. BUT, I have seen other women in sales who have failed and it was not because of their lack of smarts or knowledge, it was because of their confidence levels. If you are not confident it will come off to people around you and that will directly impact how competent people think you are. 

6. Perfectionism is a female problem.

Women want to be perfect at things. Women want to be perfect at something before they think they are ready for the big promotion or for the A in class! When you strive to be perfect, it usually prevents you from actually getting things done. If you wait until your are perfect at something it might be too late. 

7. Don't be a worrywart.

There are studies that show that women and men are just different in respect to worrying.  I am a worrier. I worry about everything. I have no idea why. I also know that worrying doesn't help anything but I still seem to do it just because. 


8. This is the most important lesson. We as women need to just ACT. 
When you hold yourself back because of something, then you are likely not going to act. That means that for women to be more confident we simply need to take action.
The more I thought about this concept of just acting and not holding back the more I agree with it. I even think about myself on the job. I am rarely concerned with holding back my comments, my thoughts, my ideas. I am always offering advice, tips, suggestions, etc that I think could help people around me. BUT, the weird part of this is that I rarely see other women doing it. I see lots of men speaking up but not lots of women. Sometimes I think that is a good thing for my career and sometimes I think just the opposite. 
We as women need to stop thinking so much, stop worrying so much and just ACT. If we work on this day in and day out we can train our brains to act rather than to step back. We can train ourselves to not worry so much.
We can train ourselves to not have to be "perfect" to take action. 

Topics: Women entrepreneurs, womenprenurs, Women in startups, WomenPreneurs, Women in Tech, women in sales, women in technology, womenintech, more women in tech, confidence gap for women

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