The 'C' Word

Today’s start ups promise to disrupt the market place with technology and innovative new ways of thinking.  More often than not there is nothing new to what they are doing, however, they are challenging the status quo of how businesses have been run. 

So, how is it different? Women, that’s the difference,  MYOB’s 2013 report revealed that almost 30% of SME’s are operated by women and they were outpacing their male counterparts, but that C word was holding them back, and still does today.  A scientific study by Wiebke Bleidorn from the University of California calls it “The Confidence Gap”, the disparity in belief between men and women is universal. Just under a million men and women from 48 countries including New Zealand were included in this research. This confidence gap feeds our need to be overly cautious. 

So with science backing “The Confidence Gap”,  is that it?  Do we just concede to what the data has shown and roll over and die?  Putting it down to, well that’s how we are wired?”.  

NZ was at the forefront of women's rights, yet,  we are still so far behind.  We are ranked 15th out of 45 countries in 2014, for the number of women in management roles. We dropped to 28th out of 35 in 2015.  Taken from Grant Thornton’s IBR research, this survey also reveals that the proportion of women in senior leadership roles has hit 25% for the 2017 year. Sadly, this is an increase of just one percent since 2016 and six percent in the 13 years since the research began. The rate of change is snail's pace. 

“The perceived predominance of women across some of the country’s key leadership positions during recent years….carries the risk of a double-edged sword. It is all too convenient to assume that this profile accurately represents the status of all professional women”.…. 
Dame Silvia Cartwright, former Governor-General of New Zealand.

Confidence is defined as the belief in our ability to succeed at a given task.  A lack of confidence drives risk aversion and makes people less willing to pursue new challenges. So, how do we change? Persistence? Change of mindset? Just simply, pull yourself up by the bootstraps and get over ourselves?  

Or, do we accept ourselves for who we are, and start constructing new confidence pathways?  

How does one construct new confidence pathways? Not alone!

Buddy up with someone, engage with a coach or join a network or group of women who are on the same path as yourself.   Women seem to be blinded by what we believe confidence looks like. Outwardly confident women are not entirely comfortable with some things they do each day, constantly comparing and questioning their progress and achievements. Let's change this.

Here are some tips on how to start helping yourself to build clearer confidence pathways - 

  • Don’t try this by all by yourself,  get a buddy, engage with a coach or join a group.  You need someone who is going to challenge you. Who will acknowledge and question your self-doubt and/or perceived gains in the confidence journey.  
  • Build confidence-  take up a challenge - preferably something that keeps you out of the lime light, yet allows you to cut your teeth on something outside of your confidence zone.  Like a project (work or community based)  
  • Find an advocate - we are not great at advocating for ourselves, sometimes we need someone in our corner,  who knows our goals, who will speak up for you when you are not in the office. 
  • Disrupt the limiting belief systems - Change your mindset to one the says; I do, I can, I must and I am, but without pigeon holing you into what particular thing.  e.g. I am a marketer, but that means I mustn't be an entrepreneur.  Write your beliefs down, acknowledge it, adopt a pragmatic yet different approach to it, and action it. 
  • Up skill, confident individuals are life long learners. We have huge access to global learning and this helps to provide economical and affordable opportunities to gain further knowledge, leading to increased confidence in our abilities and accomplishment of new skills.
  • Journal your experiences, write down the things that challenge you, consider how approaching something in an alternative way will install new methods to self-confidence.

Become the person you wish your daughters, friends, sisters and loved ones to aspire to.  Write goals, talk about them, visualize and manifest them. Show authenticity, truths, and positive and pragmatism in the way you approach and overcome challenges.

The gender equality issue is multi faceted, building our confidence helps us to work towards closing the gap.