Career Comments

Are Women Afraid To Be Confident at Work?

Written by: Zanita Whittington

“Every woman I know, particularly the senior ones, has been called too aggressive at work. We know in gender blind studies that men are more aggressive in their offices than women. We know that. Yet we’re busy telling all the women that they’re too aggressive. That’s the issue.” – Sheryl Sandberg, COO Facebook

sportmax-maxmara-zanita-milan-outfit-red-dressYou all may have seen, my Instagram profile description says ‘Worldwide Lady Boss’ – it’s my own little declaration of confidence. Truth is, I probably have been too shy or ashamed to give myself that sassy title, even a few years ago ironically. I was speaking to a fellow influencer friend about the caption I should put on an Instagram post, and I suggested, “This dress makes me feel like the Boss I am!’ She replied, “Are you sure? Won’t people give you a hard time for that?”. It was a valid concern because it is typical for women to be berated for over confidence – like we should be downplaying our success or worse, be apologetic for it. Women are less likely to ask for raises. Women have to prove themselves more than men. A McKinsey study says men are promoted based on potential, while women are promoted according to accomplishments. Being a leader and a women comes at a price tag, an inherent distrust, and presumed aggression. It can be a scary goal to want to become a leader for more reasons than you might even be aware of. 

In a survey of 4,000 employees at big companies, 36% of men said they want to become CEOs while only 18% of women said the same.

We live in the age of Beyonce (ALL HAIL THE QUEEN) and more than ever, we’re hearing women vocalise their confidence. Women want to speak for their rights, they want to claim their bodies and their independence. We have fantastic role models in business too – think Arianna Huffington, Sophia Amoruso, Natalie Massenet, Jenna Lyons, Leandra Medine, Eileen Lee, Emily Weiss, Melinda Gates, Jessica Alba, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Miroslava Duma… It just goes on. Their stories are incredibly inspiring.

Thoughts become things. If the world thinks women are less qualified, less ambitious, then we’re being held to those expectations. The conversation has begun to change, and it’s exciting. The first step to gaining equality in the workplace is being aware of how the inequality manifests in the first place. Switch your mindset to drive mode and be confident at work (and everywhere else) – don’t forget to support the women around you too!

“If you do please everyone, you are not making enough progress.” – Sheryl Sandberg, COO Facebook.

Have you ever felt hesistant to stand up for yourself, ask for a raise or voice an opinion at work? Would love to hear your stories!  – Z

confident at work

Dress by Sportmax, Shoes by Senso, Jewellery by Swarovski

Photo by Rebecca Laurey, Edit by Me

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