I volunteer as a mentor to students and working women on many forums and if I had to group the questions asked in different threads with common themes, can you guess which thread would have the maximum questions? It would be none other than Confidence gap. Right from school students to experienced working women, a common theme running in the background is ” I am not good enough” as evident in questions by school students in forms such as “I am not good at a particular subject or sport” and questions asked by working women, an example :” I don’t have good analytical skills” or have a drawback called “career gap” due to break taken to look after children. Many a times what the young girls and women see as skills gap is nothing more than actually a confidence gap.
The Importance of confidence building and why it should start early.
Confidence is key to long-term success and is underestimated for the role it plays. In fact I feel confidence building should be taught as a subject in schools right from kindergarten. Confidence is such an important trait that many a times what we see lacking in a child is actually lack of confidence more than anything else.I can not emphasise more on importance of building confidence in a child. Somewhere while growing up the confidence gap keeps on increasing in girls as compared to boys. As per data from LeanIn, between elementary and high school, girls self-esteem drops 3.5 times more than boys
Women have low self-esteem than men has been backed by research.
A recent study by Wiebke Bleidorn, Ph.D., from the University of California, reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, has found that the disparity in belief between men and women is universal.The eight-year study by Bleidorn her co-researchers analyzed data from over 985,000 men and women across 48 countries, asking them to rate the phrase: “I see myself as someone who has high self-esteem study found that across the board – regardless of culture or country, men have higher self-esteem than women.”
Following are some ways which can help in closing the confidence gap in women
Don’t be apologetic about the dual responsibility of a mother and professional. Instead be proud
Wear your scars on your resume as a soldier or a sportsperson does. It is a proof of your carrying out a responsibility nature has entrusted upon you. I am sure every woman or man out there understands what role a mother plays in our lives. It does not take away anything from you. In fact motherhood adds dimension to your personality and teaches valuable lessons on patience, prioritization of work and balancing between two important things career and family. What it actually means that you have managing two full-time jobs.
Keep working on your profile. Never take a break from it.
Working on profile does not mean making a new resume. It means working on creating things which can go on your resume. Make it a continuous process of adding value to yourself as a person and a professional. This can be done through many ways such as volunteering for NGO, contributing in networks, professional certifications, doing internships in areas of interest. Even if you are not working fulltime, you must keep working on your profile. By doing so, you not only add skill sets to your profile but also replenish any lost confidence during compromises made to balance career and family responsibilities.
The world will take your own verdict on you.
Be kind to yourself in your SWOT analysis which is the only analysis which really matters. See your skills positively.Confidence is defined as our belief in our ability to succeed at a given task, so what matters is how you rate your ability. Get rid of those lingering self doubts you have been harbouring since childhood.We all are work in progress. Everything can be improved and worked upon if you are willing to do. If you would doubt your own capability, how can you expect anyone else to do otherwise as who can know you better than yourself.
Confidence equality = Gender equality
Important piece in bridging the gender gap is closing the confidence gap. There is an unspoken bias in society where confident outspoken women are labelled bossy or worse bitchy and confident men are called assertive and displaying leadership potential. Being ambitious is a positive trait for men but not so for women.This long running bias has forced women to become subdued and submissive in order to earn the approval of people in workplace and society. This in turn makes women risk averse and more cautious in how they make career decisions. Over the time, women miss out on opportunities and do not realize their full potential.
Before expecting anybody else to do, women have to believe themselves more. Women have to nurture their own self-esteem as much as they nurture their loved ones. Women have to be as kind and compassionate to themselves as they are to others. Most importantly, women have to overcome their fears and stop overestimating the risks and underestimating themselves.To quote Sheryl Sandberg, “Fortune does favor the bold and you’ll never know what you’re capable of if you don’t try.” Give your dreams a try and you might surprise yourself more than others.