Confidence Gap: Why Do Women Think Less Of Themselves?
In various aspects of life, there is one trait which separates men from women, impeding latter’s prospects all the time – the confidence gap. While men lean towards over-confidence in their capabilities, women are generally under confident. The lack of belief in their own capabilities leads women into making inferior choices on both personal and professional fronts. We settle for inferior paychecks, we hesitate in applying to better jobs and we dare not entertain prospects of courtship from a well-suited guy, because we think ourselves to be undeserving. The confidence gap among men and women costs women a lot. But to understand this gap first we need to understand why do women think so less of themselves?
- Lack of belief in their own capabilities leads women into making inferior choices on both personal and professional fronts.
- Whenever women asses themselves, they tend to undervalue their worth.
- Women have grown habitual to analysing themselves constantly.
- Women live in constant fear of failure because the scrutiny they face in terms of fulfilling expectations is sheer brutal.
To understand this gap first we need to understand why do women think so less of themselves?
Authors Claire Shipman and Katty Kay, who have written a book called The Confidence Code, said in a 2014 essay for The Atlantic that they were surprised to discover the extent to which women suffered from self-doubt. “Do men doubt themselves sometimes? Of course. But not with such exacting and repetitive zeal, and they don’t let their doubts stop them as often as women do,” they wrote. This actually hits very close to home for me, as I’ve grappled with lack of confidence for a better part of my life, and I think most women readers will relate to me. Whenever women asses themselves, they tend to undervalue their worth. We always see scope for improvement, which in turn makes us believe that we are not putting in our hundred percent or are incapable to an extent.
This has so much to do with how we are brought up, under the constant critical gaze of peers and society. The problem is that society doesn’t want us to be better, it just wants us to fit in a mould which they consider ideal. There is always a certain way to sit, to behave, to eat, to love and even to work. In the quest to fit in, we end up internalising all the criticism and regulations which come our way. We have become habitual to analysing ourselves, seldom celebrating our achievements, but often mourning our shortcomings. The result is that we see ourselves in a very negative light. We begin to suffer from what is known as the “imposter syndrome,” seeing our achievements as a sham.
We have become habitual to analysing ourselves, seldom celebrating our achievements, but often mourning our shortcomings.
Another major contributor to this under-confidence is the list of expectations that we need to fulfil. There is no margin of error for women. You have to multi-task and excel in every aspect or call it quits. To be a working woman you should be excellent in both doing your jobs and managing your home. Slacking in either department means you get passed over for promotions or have to settle for a smaller paycheck or worse quit. Women live in constant fear of failure, because the scrutiny they face in terms of fulfilling expectations is sheer brutal.
So is the situation absolutely irredeemable? Will we forever remain under-confident and settle for inferior options all around? We don’t have to, and that is only possible when women stop telling themselves that they don’t deserve better. You deserve that pay hike you have been hesitating to ask for. You deserve a partner who accepts you as you are and doesn’t burden you with expectations. Above everything else, you deserve to be proud of yourselves.
Women fight so many odds to attain education, get a job and even marry a person they love. So if you have managed to do any of that, you must pat your back, because that is seriously not easy. Besides unless you have confidence in your own capabilities, how will it inspire others to value you?
Picture credit: Home office careers
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.