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  • Writer's pictureYvette Kinkade

Gender Confidence Gap - What is it, and what is the root cause?

Confidence is a vital yet elusive tool in our professional and personal lives. Unfortunately, there is a gender confidence gap that must be addressed. This gap can likely explain many discrepancies between men and women today. Research shows this gap starts at age 12 and increases over time. Men will overrate their performance and abilities, while most women will underrate their performance. What is the root of the perceived gap, and how do we build awareness to change and reverse the trends?

Many studies indicate that Imposter syndrome, loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud, disproportionately disadvantages women because men and women handle it differently. It causes women to subconsciously sabotage and prevents them from reaching their full potential.

Men generally push on through the fear, making them five times more likely than women to turn to drugs or alcohol due to anxiety; take credit for their achievements - talking about 'I', Apply for a promotion if they tick most of the boxes, launch a campaign to support their promotion hopes, getting a rush from the competition validating their sense of worth, all meaning Imposter Syndrome decreases.

Whereas women generally pay more attention to their emotions and can be more affected by them and allow them to affect their decisions, share the credit for achievements with their team - talking about 'we', waiting until they feel ready or ticking all the boxes, before going for a promotion, would rather leave an employer they love to get a promotion than risk the 'shame' of public failure increasing the severity of Imposter Syndrome by shining a spotlight on them.

What drives this imposter syndrome? It's fear.

Fear wants you to stay stuck. It wants you to think about all of your mistakes, the skills you don’t think you have, and all of the reasons your ego tells you, you shouldn’t take the next right step. Fear wants to strip you of self-confidence because it knows you can’t move forward without it. Fear wants to take away your faith in your own power and in any higher power you are connected to. Fear wants to keep you firmly grounded because it secretly knows (but doesn’t want you to know), your true self is powerful beyond measure. And fear is terrified of your potential power.

The antidote to fear is action.

Really? I hear you say, well, that makes sense. You are your gauge, and overcoming fear and closing your confidence gap begins with setting small, actionable tasks and stepping into your power. Try it out, particularly if it's something new. Start by writing out a list of things that press your fear button, then let me know what action you will lean into today. Share your story and celebrate as we close the gender confidence gap one day at a time.

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