What can confidence do for you?
ICYMI – Women’s Equality Day is an official U.S. holiday, celebrated each year on August 26th to commemorate the adoption of the 19th Amendment which prohibited any state or the federal government from denying someone the right to vote on the basis of sex.
Let’s think about it. It has been 70 years since this amendment was adopted. If the women that helped to pass this amendment were asked at that time what progress for women’s rights would be celebrated seven decades later, what do you think they would say? I would like to think these ambitious women would minimally envision equal pay, guaranteed paid maternity leave and maybe even a female into the Oval Office, among other things.
If anyone didn’t know that we’re still fighting for these rights and more, the U.S. Women’s Soccer team made the point loud and clear this summer. As we reflect today on the progress (or lack thereof) made since the adoption of the 19th amendment and set our sights on what we’d like to achieve 70 years from today, I’d like to introduce you to a little thing called the “confidence gap. “
Confession: I didn’t discover or invent it. But like any woman who reads the next sentence, I can easily think of a time where I identified with this idea. In 2003, Cornell University did a gender study that found that over their career, men overestimate their abilities and performance and women underestimate these same things. Even when the quality of both parties performance is equal. A man will be more inclined to go after a promotion even if he thinks he possesses only 40% of the job qualifications, where a woman would only pursue the opportunity if she believed that she had 100% of the required skills. Yikes. That would certainly help to explain the startingly low percentage of female Fortune 500 CEO’s (6.6% for the record).
So what do you think? Is this what you see in the workplace? Since 2003, women have been “leaning in”, the idea that they can break through this barrier by asserting themselves and not holding back when it comes to career advancement. Harvard Business Review (HBR) recently published research offering a different perspective on why we haven’t seen more upward mobility for females in organizations. The argument here is that women intrinsically have the same confidence levels as men, but the perception differs for by sex. At a high level: “While self-confidence is gender-neutral, the consequences of appearing self-confident are not”. So to translate...be confident, but don’t act on or vocalize that confidence if you’d like to be successful professionally. Really? I’m thankful that those women who fought for the 19th amendment cannot see what continues to happen today. Quite frankly, I think they’d be devastated.
However, the future is not totally grim and without promise. Laura Guillen, the author of this HBR article, does offer a solution: organizations need to alter their practices so that women are rewarded equally. Pressure organizational leaders to eliminate double standards. Guillen shares three steps organizations can take to work toward this goal of equality:
1. Make job requirements for success explicit
2. Monitor promotions and career advancement
3. Highlight a wider array of role models
So why am I writing about this topic of gender equality (or lack thereof)? 305 was founded by female badass Sadie Kurzban, who believed so whole- heartedly in the importance and power of self-confidence, that she created a brand where empowerment is integrated into the mission of the business. At 305 Fitness we live it everyday. We spend 55 minutes in a room, twerking it out together, so we can build our confidence and take that feeling with us throughout the rest of our day.
And I think that’s pretty powerful. Let’s acknowledge where we’re at today and strive to drive change. Let’s not be apologetic about or subdued in displaying our confidence. You worked hard to get there! Look to women like Sadie, who has built her own business and unapologetically challenges the status quo, and to your 305 community, full of other confident women who are blazing their own trails.
Today, on a holiday celebrating a major milestone in the fight for women’s equality, let’s add a little more attitude to your walk in class, and promise each other that, together, we can drive change just like these women did 70 years ago. Don’t tone down that confidence, boo. We can and will continue to change the workplace culture (and hopefully that female CEO statistic!).
Looking for more inspo? Check out our interview with Sadie on how confidence and self-belief has fueled her success.
By Kim Lynes, Director of Marketing