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Women and Confidence: Good Grief, We Are Our Own Worst Enemies

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confidence and women

Lovelies, what the heck is wrong with us? We women have confidence issues. Not that that's news. But too often our confidence issues have little basis in reality. Okay, not news either. Our confidence issues hold us back. Right -- also. not. news. How many times have you refrained from reaching for a goal because you didn't think you knew enough, had enough experience, or were good enough? Well enough is enough.

women and confidence: um -- men have more.

We all have female friends whose big brains, considerable skills and notable family and career achievements fade to wallflower status in the looming shadows of self-doubt and insecurity. Friends who seem to have everything going for them, yet who see themselves as much less than they are. Part of it is maybe that seduction of inadequacy thing Lupita Nyong'o spoke about in her now-famous speech a few days before the 2014 Academy Awards. But part of it seems to be... that we're female? Apparently.

In a story called "The Confidence Gap," journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman explore differences in confidence between women and men. Here, I've swiped the pull-quotes as highlights:

  • In studies, men overestimate their abilities and performance, and women underestimate both. Their performances do not differ in quality.
  • Do men doubt themselves sometimes? Of course. But they don’t let their doubts stop them as often as women do.
  • Women applied for a promotion only when they met 100 percent of the qualifications. Men applied when they met 50 percent.
  • Girls lose confidence, so they quit competing in sports, thereby depriving themselves of one of the best ways to regain it.
  • The natural result of low confidence is inaction. When women hesitate because we aren’t sure, we hold ourselves back.
  • One little nudge asking women how sure they are about something rattles their world, while the same gesture reminds men that they’re terrific.
  • And this quote snippet from Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychology professor and the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success: “...girls come to see mistakes as a reflection of their deeper qualities.”

Go. Read "The Confidence Gap" on

Then try not to wish that silly Dove confidence patch were a real thing. Instead, put on your favourite bright lipstick, square your shoulders, and carry on like the fabulous female you really are. You know confidence is a beautiful thing; now you have to do everything you can to own yours. We all do.