All around the world, International Women’s Day represents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality. Pledge for Parity is the theme for the 2016 International Women's Day, encouraging everyone (men and women) to take concrete steps to help achieve gender parity more quickly. Within the careers service we are making a pledge to achieve equality in self-confidence as we believe lack of self-belief is holding women back from achieving their full potential.
The Institution of Leadership & Management's research 'Ambition & Gender at Work' suggests that over 50% of women report feelings of self-doubt about their performance and careers. Time and time again research shows that women are less self-assured than men—and that to succeed, confidence matters as much as competence. According to the Huffington Post, confidence is what allows you to start acting and risking and failing, to stop mumbling and apologising and hesitating. With it you can take on the world; without it you remain stuck on the starting block of your own potential.
So how can women develop confidence?
- Use empowering language: Aston Universities Vice Chancellor, Professor Dame Julia King says women tend to use more cautious, less aggressive/assertive language, and often apologise for what they are about to say - ‘This isn't quite my subject area, but perhaps you might consider…’ ‘I am not sure this is exactly relevant, but…’ This can be interpreted as weakness and makes what women say easier to dismiss or ignore.
- Banish Negative Self-Talk: It is amazing how self-talk can lead us in to or out of a situation. If you can, take time to visualise the discussion or event going well rather than thinking of the things that may go wrong. Ask yourself, 'whats the worst that could happen?' - when you do this, you get a clarity and a bit of fear vanishes.
- Take a risk: Become comfortable with things that you don’t know, and turn your fear into an eagerness to learn new skills.
- Celebrate your successes: The best confidence boost is to celebrate your successes and keep reminding yourself of it by writing them on post-it notes. Then have them displayed in an area that you can view each day e.g. kitchen, wardrobe, medicine cabinet etc.
- Invest in your development: This afternoon we are supporting the Bath Students Union by delivering a workshop designed to enable women to identify their strengths and values and to harness these to pursue positions of leadership. There are plenty of such training opportunities that women can harness on campus from attending skills development events to participating in the Sprint personal development programme.