Is business a typically male environment? The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has pointed out that figures for 2014 show that 20% of single-person businesses and 18% of smaller businesses were majority-led by women. For all that is said about the gender gap, women in business are crucial to the UK economy.
However, in business generally, men still hold most top managerial roles. And it is men making the policy decisions and setting out the rules in most corporations.
“If women are struggling to be taken seriously in business is it a problem of self-confidence?” asks Melinda Beckett-Hughes of Ayuda. “Clearly, they can, and do, play prominent roles, but how they perceive themselves is a crucial factor.”
What is the Confidence Gap?
“Research has shown that across different cultures, men have higher esteem,” says Melinda . “Research from the University of California, reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, has found a near-universal difference in belief between men and women.”
This disparity indicates a lack of self-esteem among many women, suggesting the gender gap in business is as much a gender confidence gap as it is about other factors such as embedded sexism.
“Solving the gender gap requires several approaches, but one key element is finding ways of building women’s self-confidence”
There is evidence that women tend to rate their own abilities accurately, while men will be typically over-confident about theirs. At the same time, women do achieve alot in business, frequently moving up from relatively low positions in an organisation to become key decision-makers.
There are external factors playing a part in restricting women’s progress in business, including the demands of childbirth and families, alongside cultural and institutional barriers. However, as Melinda points out, a lack of confidence is something more basic and at the same time, elusive.
“It’s about looking behind the façade and seeing what’s really going on, and how inner self-doubt can hamper outward progression,” she says.
Can You Create Confidence?
A natural consequence of low self-esteem is inaction. If women hesitate, because they are unsure, then they hold themselves back.
“The realisation is that a lack of confidence isn’t just about how you feel, but that it has very real consequences in terms of work”
“Neuroscientists have a term called plasticity, which is the amazing way the brain can modify its own structure and function, in responses to how the body or external environment changes,” Melinda observes. “People can alter their thought-patterns, and women can make their brains more prone to being confident.”
“Addressing self-confidence issues can help unlock potential and bring about measurable improvements for many women in business,” Melinda concludes, “whether they are entrepreneurs or working in organisations.”
If you would like to address and successfully build your self-confidence:
- Call Ayuda, in the strictest confidence on 0800 612 2611
- Visit ayuda-group.com
- Read how they have helped other men and women in business