Conquering the confidence gap

Confidence is fundamental to professional success—so why do women struggle to build and apply it?

When asked about their careers, successful people often thank those closest to them—their bosses, mentors, parents or friends. They may reflect on their own passion or relentless energy. Rarely do they acknowledge overcoming self-esteem issues. This obstacle on the path to success is not always easy for women to surmount, however, and even some of the most remarkable female role models have struggled with confidence.

Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, authors of The Confidence Code, explored this phenomenon. They found that “success correlates just as closely with confidence as it does with competence. The natural result of low confidence is inaction. When women hesitate because we aren’t sure, we hold ourselves back.”

Such negative behavior saps energy and motivation and can lead to anxiety and depression—and it can lead women to self-sabotaging their careers.

Gaby Gramont, writing for, notes that women often experience a crippling amount of work-related anxiety that men do not: “This is known as the Confidence Gap.” Gramont says that feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt in men, particularly white men, often go away due to validation received over the years.


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