Do Women Hold Themselves Back?

Confident young girls may be seen as “bossy” or “pushy” while male peers who act the same way are praised as “outgoing” or “authoritative”.

This is one of the central ideas of Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, which highlights the ways in which women are often socialised and conditioned to pull back from opportunities and success.

Do women lack the confidence to speak up or lower their expectations of what they can achieve?  So instead of pushing themselves forward, do women hold themselves back when it comes to job opportunities, sharing ideas and seeking leadership opportunities?

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics social trend report found that many women lack the self-confidence necessary to become leaders. “It has been suggested that women tend to be uncomfortable with self-promotion. Being more hesitant to promote themselves and their accomplishments may come across as a lack of confidence in their abilities.” says the Women in Leadership report.

iStock WomenandConfidence Do Women Hold Themselves Back?

How can women assert themselves when gender bias still exists in most workplaces?  Here are some key ideas that Sandberg shares in her recent TED Talk:


  • Don’t wait for opportunities to present themselves or until you are completely qualified.  If you are well regarded and have most of the skills and experience required for a job, you have the same right as your male counterparts to be considered for new roles.
  • Own you own achievements and develop the confident to talk about them.   Talk about what it means to get ahead and seek leadership roles.
  • Instead of looking for a mentor, find people who can help you with solutions to your problems which will engender more productive workplace relationships.
  • If you are a parent, ensure your partner is supportive of your career goals and agree on a fair division of parenting responsibilities.

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