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The Gap That Holds Us Back

WRITTEN BY McKenna Rhinehart

Today, women are held back in their careers for a wide range of reasons, including attire, hair, family lives, personality, etc. However, even with these obstacles, women have still overcome. They have fought in wars, sat in political offices, led board meetings or created companies. 

As women all over campus work hard to fight for their place in these roles and others, it’s common to ask what the secret is. How can women silence the disapproving voices, both from others and within themselves? There is one method that stands out from the rest, and it only requires you and a mirror.

Confidence is simultaneously the easiest and hardest concept for humans to grasp, and it grows in difficulty when applying it to women. 

Many are familiar with the pay gap between men and women, where women are currently making 82 cents to every man’s dollar. However, many are not aware that there is another gap that is harming women’s success just as much: the confidence gap. 

The confidence gap can be seen in research on the differing levels between men and women’s confidence. A study at Cornell University showed that women do not feel as confident as their male colleagues until their mid-40s – long after a crucial time to market themselves in their field of work. 

This creates an ongoing internal issue in women because of their hesitation to show others their self-confidence in fear of being labeled “too much.” This misogynistic judgment deteriorates the confidence a female does have and furthers an unbalanced representation of women in the workplace.

Self-confidence can be achieved in simple ways. The biggest of which is displaying the confidence we already have in public. 

Many professionals studying this issue have come to a very similar conclusion. Women are confident, at least in some form,yet they are less likely to promote this confidence, allowing others to assume they have none. 

This is where practice makes perfect. Incorporating small daily changes into your social encounters and routines enables your confidence to shine. 

Some examples of ways to do this are to correct someone when mispronouncing your name, fix your posture, speak loud and clearly and dress in ways that you feel reflect your personality. These cultivate public confidence that allows friends, family and colleagues to recognize the worth you have within yourself and encourage opportunities to flow to you.

Women are faced with a higher risk of being passed over just because they are women. It’s a fact that so many live with, and so many contribute to, including those affected. There is already a list of qualities females in the workplace change to qualify, but the way they view themselves should not be included. 

Women cannot allow society to lessen their, or others’ presence. With only 24%of women holding C-suite level positions, 4% of those being women of color, it is crucial to make building self-confidence a habitual practice in our routine for success. 


Coping Strategies To Lead And Succeed As A Minority Woman | Forbes | Hira Ali

The Confidence Gap In Men And Women: Why It Matters And How To Overcome It | Forbes | Jack Zenger 

A Lack of Confidence Isn’t What’s Holding Back Working Women | The Atlantic | Stéphanie Thomson 

Women in the Workplace | McKinsey

How to build your confidence — and spark it in others | Brittany Packnett Cunningham

Want to sound like a leader? Start by saying your name right | Laura Sicola | TEDxPenn