Confidence is something we think of as a natural marker of leadership ability, but Claire Shipman suggests that many of us, women especially, are unconsciously trained to avoid speaking up or taking risks. This masterclass is unapologetic in its acknowledgment of the disparity and straightforward in its approach to helping women and their managers understand the confidence gap, and how to close it.
You Will Learn
How to close the confidence gap between men and women
How to build up confidence as a woman
This image was originally posted at
1. Acknowledge The Confidence Gap
Anecdotal evidence has long suggested that women tend to underestimate their abilities while men tend in the opposite direction. In the workplace, this would suggest that existing discrimination with respect to wages and promotion is exacerbated by women’s own reluctance to ask for pay raises and greater professional responsibility, while their male colleagues don’t hesitate to put themselves forward.
2. Confidence 101
What is confidence? This was one of the trickiest questions Claire Shipman faced in researching her book, The Confidence Code, when she first discovered what it decidedly isn’t: a passive self-valuation, aka “self-esteem.”
3. Best Practices to Empower Female Employees
The confidence gap between men and women is a statistical reality but, for many male managers, hard data doesn’t offer much in the way of helping them support women in overcoming it. In fact, Claire Shipman found there’s a general reluctance among male managers to broach the subject at all. They’re hesitant to make assumptions about a woman’s existing level of confidence, and to offer coaching where it may not be welcome or expected. But when the confidence gap is swept under the rug, the fu...
4. Self-Reflect with Confidence
For Claire Shipman, the process of writing The Confidence Code included the unexpected journey of understanding how she lacked confidence herself. A tendency toward perfectionism, an aversion to risk—behaviors she didn’t previously attribute to self-confidence were indeed related and, as she discovered, commonly shared among women.
5.: Don't Ruminate, Rewire
The tendency to ruminate upon past actions or to overthink future scenarios is surprisingly common. And as with other confidence-eroding tendencies, it’s unfortunately more common in women than in men.
6. When in Doubt, Act
In general, “be prepared” isn’t bad advice. The trouble is that no bell rings when you’re prepared enough. As a result, it’s easy to become mired in the quicksand of research, editing, and consensus-gathering to the point where opportunity passes you by. Tending generally to be more socially aware and methodical than their male counterparts, women are especially vulnerable to this pitfall. The solution? Less preparation, more action.
7. Embrace Your Intrinsic Strengths
In Mad Men, a TV series about the mostly male advertising execs who dominated Madison Avenue in the 1960s, confidence had no shortage of swagger. It embodied the male bravado that many women feel compelled to emulate in meetings, discussions, and any situation that requires self-assertion.In reality, taking on the “armor” of someone else to convey confidence is too heavy of a burden to sustain over time, particularly given the fact that confidence in women doesn’t always look the same as it d...
8. Speak Up Without Upspeak
Historically (and still today) women have found themselves silenced in all kinds of ways, from explicit discrimination to the self-doubt and self-censorship discrimination can teach. So let’s be clear at the outset; this lesson is not about feeling ashamed of “upspeak” or silencing yourself if you’re an upspeaker. Upspeak—the habit of upward-inflecting the ends of statements so that they sound like questions—is both generational and, it seems, an outgrowth of women’s social tendency to se...
9. Let Go of Perfectionism
Perfectionism holds you back. It seems like a paradox, but the mechanism’s simple; confidence and growth come through risk-taking, mistake-making, and the habit of picking yourself up and trying again. Perfectionism, on the other hand, sticks within safe, predictable boundaries—it confines success to very narrow margins and doesn’t dare stretch them for fear of failure.