Lori Cornmesser

Women in the Workplace

While women have come a long way in the workforce in terms of equality with men, there is undoubtedly still a gender gap that prevents men and women from being on equal playing fields in the office.  According to an article detailing a new book by two well-known female journalists, the true issue behind this gender gap in the workplace is lack of confidence, rather than lack of competence.

Katty Kay, anchor for BBC World News America and Claire Shipman, of ABC News co-authored the book, “The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance.”

According to Kay, “In the classroom, we are superstars, and then we get into the real world and something changes,” she says of females entering the work force.  She then continues, “The rules change.  And women don’t play so well. You have to have a certain amount of confidence, and I think that’s the bit of the equation perhaps that women are missing.”

It was during their research for a different book, “Womenomics,” which was published in 2009, that the issue of the lack of female self-assurance in the workplace became apparent to the duo.  After talking to numerous women who were holding impressive careers at the time, Kay and Shipman were surprised to find that these women felt that they didn’t deserve the jobs they had earned, and that they felt like, “an imposter,” or like a, “fraud.”  These sentiments pushed them to consider the notion further- was this just what women said in conversation, to be humble, or was it something beyond that?  Did they actually feel this way and was there backing evidence to their sentiments?

Through some digging, it became clear that there was data to back up what these women were feeling.  It became apparent that women were holding themselves back when it came to more stressful work-related situations, such as competing for promotions or asking for higher pay.  Research showed that women would apply to promotional opportunities that they were 100% qualified for, whereas men who have roughly 60% of the required skills for a position would apply for the same opening.

This among many other findings are extremely telling of the gender gaps between men and women in the workplace.  They also found a great deal about the fear of failure holding women back in the workplace.  Evidently, there is a lot that needs to be done in order to bridge this gender gap and boost women’s confidence in the office. To learn more about the findings of this book and areas in which women are holding themselves back in terms of their jobs, check out the article mentioned above.