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Women vs. Men, Is There a Confidence Gap?

Today I read an article “The Confidence Gap”, espousing the premise that more women lack confidence than men.  If true, why is this and can this be overcome?  Is the stereotype true that, traditionally, women feel less confident in business situations than men?  Is it still a “man’s world”, whether women do or don’t exude confidence?

As a teen of the 60’s, I’ve seen – and experienced - great changes and significant advances for women in the workplace.  Hey – it used to be (in the olden days) that a stay-at-home mom had no legal way of even funding her own Roth IRA! 

I did not develop my business experience in the larger corporate world, so I can only speak about this from the perspective of friends who have.  These women felt strong and competent during those years, but had to learn to maneuver in a man’s world.  Did they have to adapt to how men “operated” in order to get ahead?  I am told that they often did.  However, many women today believe that they are better off, long term, if they appreciate the differences and utilize them to their advantage. 

Why would women WANT to be like men?  If equal compensation is the issue, then we have laws to deal with these issues.   Respect?  Our behavior, actions and reputation should engender respect, as this is not a “given”.  Women tend to have a sensitivity that men do not and, if not to the level of emotionality, it can be a true benefit in dealing with others in the workplace. 

Do women have to be tough to be effective?   If tough implies “strong”, “resilient”, and “stable”, I think the answer is probably yes.  However, if “tough” is interpreted as “rough”, “harsh” or “hard-hitting”, then I doubt such women will be viewed positively.  Even those of us outside the large corporate world know that there is much to be gained from strength through diplomacy, respect through integrity, resilience through a positive attitude, focus and forthrightness.

Should a woman behave differently during a job interview?  Does the generational classification of the interviewer affect the outcome when it comes to stereotypes?  I believe that we always have to have a healthy respect for, even if we don't agree withor feel in control of, the human element. 

It is important to note that I believe young women today often view this issue as a nonstarter, expecting to be treated with a certain degree of respect out of the gate.  I applaud this frame of mind so long as they behave in a way that deserves such respect.

Many folks might disagree with me, but I believe a woman has to find her confidence not only through results, but also by operating from within – and at times pushing the boundaries of - her comfort zone.  The result can engender such a level of self-respect that it actually gives her the courage to ‘lean in” and accomplish whatever she wants to.