The Confidence Code: Closing the Confidence and Pay Gap

Imagine you’re a hiring manager who is about to interview two prospective candidates for a very high level position. The first candidate has an extremely impressive resume and years of experience, while the second has less experience and a decent resume. Who would you hire?

You’d probably assume the first candidate, but you’d be wrong. The less experienced candidate actually lands the job. Even though he didn’t have enough experience, he decided he could do the job, and his confidence out shown the more qualified, yet not as confident, female candidate.

This disturbing, yet common scenario happens almost everyday in corporate America. It was scenarios just like the one outlined above that drove journalists Katty Kay & Claire Shipman to write their new book, “The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know.” They were fascinated by the causes behind the confidence gap between men and women and what influence it was having on women’s ability to get ahead.

While both women are extremely successful in their own careers – Claire Shipman is a regular contributor for both “Good Morning America” and other ABC News programs and Katty Kay is the anchor of “BBC World News America,” as well as contributor to other news and radio programs – they both admit to sometimes falling in to the confidence gap themselves. It made them wonder if this was a result of nurture or nature.

During their research for the book they talked to neuroscientists and psychologists about the origins of women’s struggle with self-doubt. They learned that some distinctions in the differences between men and women’s brains might affect confidence levels. It seems that testosterone, which is more prevalent in men, increases tolerance for risk.

Shipman and Kay realized that while nature may play some part in women’s confidence levels, it wasn’t the only issue holding women back. By developing a plan of attack and taking risks, women could be just as confident as men. They interviewed some of the world’s top women leaders to learn how they stopped trying to be perfect and worrying about what others thought and realized that they not only the competence, but the confidence to accomplish their goals.

“The Confidence Code” is the culmination of all of their interviews and research, and hopefully can serve as a guideline for how women can improve their confidence. In fact, they even developed a Confidence Quiz to help women see where they fall on the confidence scale so they might improve their future outcomes!

The quiz and the book are especially timely, especially in light of the recent gender gap debate in Congress. Even though the bill to narrow the gap didn’t pass, it did bring the topic to the forefront once again. It seems that even in The White House women are only paid 88 cents for every $1 paid to men because they tend to take lower level positions. Shipman and Kay hope that their book can be a beacon of light to help women realize they don’t have to settle for less. All they need to succeed is to throw a little confidence in the mix and understand men aren’t the only ones who deserve that promotion, pay raise or a new job.

What are your thoughts on women and confidence in the workplace? Have you ever let self-doubt, perfectionism or other what other people thought hold you back in your job search or career? Comment below to start the conversation! 


One thought on “The Confidence Code: Closing the Confidence and Pay Gap

  1. I’ve been overlooked for promotions several times because of a perceived lack of self-confidence. I’m good at what I do, work quickly, know the products I work with well, am great at troubleshooting and can perform under stress. One of my managers said “you doubt yourself” and “you aren’t self-confident.” He couldn’t give me credit for how talented and valuable I was to the team. He couldn’t see past his image of me. I am confident in myself and my abilities. I am penalized because many male managers and co-workers don’t know what they’re looking at. They don’t see the talent that is right in front of their eyes. It’s difficult for me to keep my head up anymore when, over the years, less experienced and skilled people have been hired and promoted ahead of me. In my lifetime, (since stereotypes won’t go away that quickly) my best chance of recognition and success is to be an entrepreneur and work for myself. That’s a tough road to follow! Only a small number of small businesses are successful or grow into large companies. I’m jaded now. If I did create a successful business and become a market leader, I think that clueless manager I mentioned above would say upon learning of my success, “You must have had a man helping you. You look too unsure of yourself to have accomplished such success.”

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