Brag books, confidence logs are among techniques experts recommend to bolster lacking self-confidence
by Sue Shellenbarger, March 19, 2018
One of the most critical career strengths is a belief that can’t be taught—self-confidence. And for many women, it’s in short supply.
A lack of confidence, or the expectation that you can handle tough tasks even if you haven’t done them before, is more common among women than men, studies show, and it can be a powerful brake on their careers. Amid a growing focus on the problem by researchers and career experts, women are trying new strategies to shore up their belief in themselves.
Confidence takes root in childhood but also can be internalized in adulthood, through experience, hard work or practice. “It requires really paying attention to the small wins and not being so quick to overlook, downplay, dismiss and diminish your accomplishments,” says Aimee Cohen, a Denver career coach and author.
Some 63% of women enter the workforce with the confidence that they can rise to senior management, compared with 75% of men, according to a 2016 survey of 8,400 adults by Bain & Co. and LinkedIn. By mid-career, only 57% of women still feel that way, compared with 66% of men, says Julie Coffman, a Bain partner and lead author of the study.
Women often hesitate to seize opportunities or ask for promotions without bosses’ support, and they tend to shoulder more family-care duties at home, Ms. Coffman says. Other research links women’s lack of confidence to being encouraged during childhood to be compliant and agreeable and to strive for perfection, rather than to compete and take risks.
….Ms. Durkin started a “confidence log,” as suggested by a mentor, noting times when she felt most intimidated or most confident [at her job]. The log, plus input from colleagues, helped her see that she was spending an unnecessary amount of time during presentations justifying her research methods rather than describing her findings.
Women often assume mastering their jobs will be enough to advance, says Carrie Kerpen, an author, speaker and co-founder of a digital-marketing agency, who told Ms. Durkin’s story in her new book on career strategies, “Work It.” They also should be asking themselves, “How do I position myself in a way that allows me to look and feel confident?” she says. This includes describing your accomplishments with enthusiasm.
…Women’s lack of self-assurance is often especially visible in meetings where they’re outnumbered by men. They speak up less and are interrupted more often by others who criticize or disagree with them, according to a 2016 study of 470 small-group participants.
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