By Ester Brierley
It is no secret that it is very difficult for women to obtain influential positions in business or in society in general. This question has been studied by many scientists, and even more journalists point out the difference in opportunities and the unfair relationship between women and men in positions associated with power and responsibility. Most people agree that this problem must be tackled by changing HR policies, raising awareness, providing training programs and creating equal opportunities legislation. However, the success of such changes depends to a large extent on the women themselves.
There is one fact that remains unchallenged when it comes to kind equality: salaried women are less confident than their male colleagues, and this factor often plays a key role when employers consider candidates for top positions. Men don’t tend to be self-critical. They always sell better and never hesitate to mention even the smallest achievements. In 2014, Claire Shipman and Katty Kay addressed this question in their book The Code of Trust: The Science and Art of Insurance – What Women Should Know. The authors pointed out that underqualified men often feel much more confident in their skills and experience than overqualified women. Why do women have less self-confidence? And how to solve this important problem?
Self-esteem: what is it?
Psychologists use the term “self-esteem”To describe a person’s sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Simply put, your self-esteem is how you love and appreciate yourself. Self-esteem is a relatively stable thing, which is why it is often seen as a personality trait. It is made up of many factors, including your emotions about yourself, your behavior, and your opinion about your appearance.
The importance of self-esteem becomes evident when it comes to career development. It can be the main motivator and the main reason why you are successful or not. High self-esteem leads to a generally more positive outlook on life and a more assertive attitude. Obviously, if you want to achieve a goal, you have to believe that you can do it.
According to Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the difference in self-esteem between men and women is presented around the world. This difference is one of the main reasons why we can see a large gender gap in business. Of course, there are also many other factors that prevent women from being successful, including sexism and socio-economic factors, but the self-esteem gap often goes unnoticed which is a big deal. Women need to know the importance of their self-esteem and understand how to improve it.
Interesting facts about gender and self-esteem:
1. Developed countries have a larger self-esteem gap
Although Western countries are associated with better standards for gender equality, there is also a greater difference in self-esteem between men and women. According to research, countries like India, Thailand and China, as well as many other developing countries, have a smaller gap. On the one hand, developing countries show greater gender inequality. Women face traditional gender roles and often cannot reach their full potential. On the other hand, if these women “play by the rules” and meet the expectations of their society, their self-esteem grows.
Western countries are different. Women have more opportunities, they can get a better education and are more likely to hold leadership positions, but Western society still has some patriarchal stereotypes. For example, the physical appearance of women is still considered very important in many Western countries. The researchers point out that in adolescence, girls’ opinions about their appearance change and negatively affect their self-esteem.
2. The self-esteem gap changes with age
Despite the larger self-esteem gap between men and women in developed countries, there are also some positive statistics. For example, more career opportunities allow Western women to improve their self-esteem over time. In their mid-forties, the self-esteem gap between men and women is dissolving, while by the age of 60, many women show even higher self-esteem. There are also different dynamics demonstrated by women and men throughout their lives. After the decline during adolescence, the self-esteem of women shows a stable growth from the age of 25 to 60 years. Men typically show a significant drop in self-esteem in their 40s, followed by growth that peaks at age 51 and then declines again.
3. Self-esteem is determined by gender roles
When talking about children, it is difficult to overestimate the importance of self-esteem for the overall psychological state. As we have already mentioned above, in adolescence, girls are less confident than boys because they are concerned about their physical appearance and body image. However, this is not the only factor that affects their self-esteem. There are many qualities associated with a high level of self-esteem that are traditionally considered masculine traits. Girls who are confident in themselves often face a negative reaction from society because they do not meet stereotypical gender norms. According to research, girls often choose easier tasks and try not to participate in competitions. They also have lower expectations than their male peers. On the other hand, girls demonstrate better social and communication skills, as well as a higher level of empathy.
4. The self-esteem gap is not that big
Of course, low self-esteem can keep women from being successful, but it’s important to understand that self-esteem naturally increases as women become more successful. In addition, women should not take their self-esteem as something inevitable. They need to understand that if something is wrong at work or in their personal life, their personality and self-confidence cannot be the only reasons for these problems. Women certainly need to work on their self-esteem and their personality, but they must first tackle the problems in their environment. Women shouldn’t think they are weak, and the self-esteem gap between men and women should not be used as an excuse for not considering women for leadership positions.
There is a significant difference between the self-esteem of men and women, and this problem is caused by many independent factors. Surprisingly, countries with greater gender equality also show a greater gap in self-esteem between women and men. The reason is that providing equal opportunities is not enough if society is still based on traditional gender roles. It is important to tackle the low self-esteem of women by taking into account all the external causes of this problem and not supporting gender stereotypes. Women should also understand that their self-esteem can naturally increase over time, following personal and professional growth.
Ester Brierley is a quality engineer in a software outsourcing company and a skilled virtual assistant for College writers. She knows the secret to balancing self-employment and full-time work. Loves researching cutting edge digital trends and sharing them in her writing as a seasoned content creator for many websites. Follow her on Twitter.