Women undervalue their abilities by 20%

When I present to organisations and companies about confidence, I often question the attendees as to how confident they are in their abilities at work. 

I ask them to score their expertise from zero to 10 - with zero being "I'm totally incapable of doing my job", and 10 meaning "I'm extremely capable".

When I average the scores of men and women, I can guarantee that the men’s average score will be higher than the women’s average.

This is backed up by research in which they questioned students on their abilities in science. They asked a group of male and female students to rate their skills in science and then gave them a science quiz to answer.

Unsurprisingly, the male students rated their skills higher on average than the females, but more worryingly, the women rated themselves on average 20% lower in abilities than their test results scored.

So, why is this and what can you do to change it?

There are multiple factors that explain why generally women have a lower self-belief and are more risk-averse than men. For example biology, upbringing and social conditioning.

This childhood conditioning to be polite, modest and ‘nice’ means it feels uncomfortable to recognise our abilities. We worry that we sound boastful or like a bragger.

Add to this our tendency to compare ourselves to others and it’s understandable that we underplay our abilities.

So, how can you recognise and acknowledge your talents? 

  • Break your job down into its various elements/skills and score yourself on those. Being specific helps get a more realistic perspective of how you’re doing.
  • Don’t undermine your abilities with negative comments about yourself.
  • Once you’ve recognised your expertise and achievements, challenge yourself to talk positively about them at the next opportunity.

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Written by Jo Painter AC, Dip LC, NLP Prac, MRPharmS

Jo is the leading UK confidence and career impact coach. She works with women whose mindset and behaviours are holding them back, supporting them to have the skills and strategies to be authentically successful. Jo has coached hundreds of women and organisations to achieve amazing results, through 1-2-1 coaching, workshops and online programmes.… Read more

Written by Jo Painter AC, Dip LC, NLP Prac, MRPharmS

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