Women in the workforce get no shortage of messages about how we should behave. Advocate for yourself … but not too much. Ask for a raise … but pick your moment.
Katty Kay, the anchor of BBC World News America, and Claire Shipman, correspondent for ABC and Good Morning America, authors of “The Confidence Code,” argue that women will occupy more C-suites and positions of power by taking risks, speaking up, and being more confident.
How confident are you? Take the ‘Confidence Quiz’
On the meaning of confidence:
Shipman: “The stuff that turns thoughts into action … Confidence is about your belief in your ability to have an impact on the world. To get things done , so there’s a real element of action about it.”
On the confidence gap between men and women:
Kay: “The last book we wrote made the case for women in business and how companies, organizations, that employ more senior women, do better than their competitors. And yet as we interviewed these senior women we kept hearing phrases like, ‘You know, I’m just lucky to have got where I am,’ or, ‘I was in the right place at the right time,’ or, ‘I’m not sure I’m the right person for that new promotion or that new big contract.’ And we thought that’s so strange, you know, we never hear phrases like that from men. So, we started to dig into the research on this and a lot of psychologists and business schools have now done research showing that there is indeed a confidence gap between men and women.”
“For example, there is a business school study from Manchester University in the U.K., that the professor has been asking students, what do you think you deserve to earn five years after you graduate. Men routinely say they deserve to earn $80,000 on average. Women will say it’s $64,000. That a 20% difference. [At] Hewlett Packard, women will apply for promotions when they have 100% of the skill set, men are happy if they have 60% of the skill set because they think they’re going to learn the rest on the job.”
“Women, whilst we have all the talent, we have all the competence, we’re perfectly able, we are undervaluing ourselves compared to men.”
On the importance of failure:
Shipman: “Carol Dweck said to us something that was pivotal. She said, “If life were one long grade school, women would rule the world.” And that is because although we’re raising girls in large measure these days to think they can do anything, we’re still nurturing them to be perfect and people pleasers and well behaved — in fact, too perfect. And so they internalize this sort of coloring within the lines, pleasing people, being quiet, getting good grades. They do that all the way through college. They excel. They hit the real world, and guess what? They haven’t screwed up. They haven’t failed. They haven’t learned that you lose, you flunk, you do this. It doesn’t matter you just keep going.”
Kay: “What you learn when you fail at something, whether it’s something small like asking for a pay raise that you don’t get, big or small, whether it’s in your personal life or private life, in the end you realize you’re still there. You’re still standing.”