Three Reasons Why Women Have More Stress and What They Can Do about It

Brenda is my coaching client, and for two years she almost always began sobbing as soon as we started our coaching sessions. “My stress level is so high,” she would tell me between sobs. “I just can’t go on like this.” Brenda is passionate about her work, is the manager of a team that provides direct services, and is the mother of two young children. “I can’t sleep at night, I am short-tempered with my children and husband, I have no time to see my friends, and I’ve stopped exercising,” she explained to illustrate her stress level.

Unfortunately, Brenda’s experience is not unusual. Kristin Wong of the New York Times writes that a 2016 study published in The Journal of Brain & Behavior shows that women who work are twice as likely to suffer from severe stress and anxiety as men. Why? Wong notes that scholars Dr. Erin Joyce and Silvia Federici offer three reasons:

  1. Women do more unpaid domestic work than men. It’s not that men don’t feel stress in terms of fulfilling responsibilities at home and work, but, Dr. Joyce explains, “the difference . . . is in the nature and scope of these responsibilities in the home environment.” For example, Wong notes, “The United Nations reported that women do nearly three times as much unpaid domestic work as men.”
  2. Women do more emotional labor at home and at work. Wong cites research from Nova Southeastern University showing that women managers are expected to do more “emotional labor,” such as showing calmness and empathy and attending to relationships with employees, even when they don’t feel it or prefer to manage in a more masculine, less relational style. My own research, published in my book New Rules for Women: Revolutionizing the Way Women Work Together, found that if women managers do not invest time in emotional labor, they are judged harshly by both women and men in performance reviews and other forms of feedback. Because of socialized gender role expectations, emotional labor is expected of women and not of men in the workplace. Both domestic and emotional labor are exhausting.
  3. Women expect to be able to “do it all” and can feel guilty and even more stressed when they cannot.

            Why do we still have such a large gender gap in unpaid domestic labor? So much has changed over the past fifty years as the opportunities for women in the workforce have expanded. Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times reports, however, that while “Americans have grown increasingly likely to believe that women and men should have equal roles at work . . . a significant share still say that men’s and women’s roles should be different at home.” She cites a new study, soon to be published in Gender and Society, based on a national survey covering data from 1977 to 2016. This study shows that roughly one-quarter of people’s views reflect a different opinion about equality at work versus home. Specifically, the findings reflect a belief that women and men should be equal at work but women should do more of the homemaking and child rearing. Other research reflects that while women are doing more paid work than in the past, men are not doing much more domestic work.

In a global study, Miller reports that the United States was found to have much lower levels of family-friendly policies and supports than in twenty-two comparable English-speaking and European countries. In countries with family-friendly policies and supports, the relative happiness of people with children versus those without is significantly higher than reported for Americans with children. This could be one more reason why American women experience higher levels of severe stress.

Chronic levels of severe stress have potentially dangerous consequences, such as the following:

  • Insomnia.
  • Family conflicts.
  • Guilt.
  • Challenges to heart health, which is affected by disturbed sleep, anxiety, and chronic stress and can lead to heart attacks and early death.

What can women do to deal with severe stress? Wong suggests some approaches to manage and reduce stress:

  • Embrace self-care. Yes, self-care takes time, but the payoff is huge and can be lifesaving. For example, find practices to help you sleep, such as relaxation and breathing exercises, meditation, and journaling. Exercise and eat a healthy diet, which will also help with sleep.
  • Know your stress triggers. Consider a few therapy sessions to help break some old habits and develop new ones.
  • Talk with your partner about more equitable sharing of housework and childcare.
  • Seek validation, an essential form of support. Spend time with other women, either at or outside of work, who can help you remember that you are not crazy, and you are not alone. Share best practices about stress management.

These steps can work. Brenda no longer cries during our coaching sessions because she has been able to get her stress level down. You can, too. What has worked for you?

Photo courtesy of Jira (CC0 1.0)

]]>

Strategic Relationships at Work: Creating Your Circle of Mentors, Sponsors, and Peers for Success in Business and Life—A Book Review

Wendy Murphy and Kathy E. Kram have written an important book about why we all need developmental support networks for both career success and personal well-being—and how to develop those networks. The book is practical and easy to read, with lots of research-based examples and tips. Reflection activities at the end of each chapter encourage the reader to apply the concepts immediately to her own career and life. What I found most interesting were these points about mentoring that I had not considered: Formal and informal mentors. The authors reviewed scores of studies and conducted several of their own that revealed that having a formal mentor, often assigned in a workplace program, is valuable but not enough. We need a network of mentors, both formal and informal, to reach our goals and enable us to “cope with stress and thrive during times of change.” Trends in the changing nature of work. These trends require that we take charge of our career development and have multiple types and sources of mentoring. The authors identified the most significant trends as the following:

  1. Job mobility—it is not uncommon for people to work in multiple organizations during their working lives.
  2. Globalization—the world we live in is increasingly connected, and we need to keep learning from different people how to be effective across cultures and national boundaries.
  3. Technology—technology creates new challenges for how to both engage and disengage from work.
  4. Pace of change—the pace of change has become very fast and can be overwhelming. We need to be able to adapt and change continually.
Essential skills for developing your network. The authors note that the basic ingredients for developing a productive mentoring network are relationship-building skills. Core to relationship skills are self-awareness and social skills. Social skills include listening, giving and receiving feedback, empathy, conflict management, and the ability and willingness to share aspects of your story. Concrete suggestions for how to develop these skills are included in this book, as well as in Daniel Goleman’s book Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships. How to develop a mentor. The authors encourage readers to be proactive and reach out to people who are potential mentors. They suggest some steps to take in this process:
  1. Get clear about your own strengths and career goals. Select potential mentors who might know something or someone who could help you move forward on your path.
  2. Invite a potential mentor for coffee or lunch for an informational interview.
  3. Ask thought-provoking questions, such as the following:
    1. Could you tell me about your career path? How did you get to the position you are in today?
    2. What are the most important lessons you’ve learned from each promotion or change?
    3. What are the best and worst aspects of your current job? Of your current organization?
    4. How would you advise someone who wanted to follow a similar career path?
Types of mentors. A recent article in the Boston Globe suggests there are three kinds of informal mentors who meet different types of needs:
  1. The co-mentor—someone who is your equal with whom you can exchange skills, knowledge, and encouragement.
  2. The remote mentor—someone outside of your organization who can give you a fresh perspective.
  3. The invisible mentor—someone who you can learn from with little or no direct interaction. This can be a role model who inspires you and whom you may never meet in person.
Other tips. Diversity matters. Be intentional about developing informal mentoring relationships with people from different social contexts than your own. Broader perspectives can challenge your thinking and open up new networks for you. This book is worth spending some time with. Each career move and stage of life brings new challenges in choosing and navigating your path. Periodically update your mentoring network to keep it fresh and diverse so that you have the support you need throughout your life. We all need support.]]>

What’s Different about Leading Women?

New Rules for Women, shows—that women often have different relationship expectations of their female colleagues than they do of males. I call these expectations women’s friendship rules. We begin to develop friendship rules at a very young age, but by the time we are adults our friendship rules have become unconscious. Men have friendship rules, too, but because of differences in our gender socialization, theirs are not the same. Women’s friendship rules tend to be much more egalitarian and relational, while men’s expectations, reflected in most workplace cultures as “the right way to be,” are more transactional and hierarchical. Women expect female colleagues and team members to be friendly, to share personal information, and to be collaborative. In fact, the coach in our opening story seems to be reflecting men’s friendship rules when she asks how to get the women to “just focus on the task” of winning games. I told the coach she was asking the women to be men—and they are not men—which would not work. As their leader, her task is to help them build the strong relationships they need for effective teamwork and to be motivated to win. I also suggested that she was another factor in the motivation equation. Not only do our friendship rules create expectations of peers and colleagues, but my research shows that female subordinates often expect different leadership behaviors from their female managers or leaders as well, needing them to be more relational, too. They do not have this expectation of male leaders. This means the female coach may need to spend more time chatting and getting to know her team members than she’s accustomed to motivate them. Here are five tips for leading women in the office and on the playing field:

  1. Create a shared vision, or picture, of a high-performing team. What is happening? How does it feel to be a team member? How are team members working together? Facilitate a conversation among the team members to help them create a shared vision of what it means to them to be a high-performing team.
  2. Make team agreements, or explicit friendship rules, about how team members will behave to support each other, be friendly, handle disagreements, compete, and have different roles and styles. We are not all the same, and we need to make our expectations clear to each other and find common ground about what to expect.
  3. Tend to relationships, and do not push hurt feelings or misunderstandings under the rug. Create regular spaces to clean the relational field, or take time to talk about interactions that have not gone well and create new agreements about how to handle them next time.
  4. Celebrate successful teamwork.
  5. Encourage friendships, but discourage cliques, for the good of the team.
Women’s gender socialization means that for many women being team players and collaborating comes easily. We need to be intentional, though, about making our unconscious expectations of each other explicit so that we can both work hard as individuals to reach our individual potential and be authentic and caring as friends and teammates who maintain strong and supportive relationships. We can do both.  ]]>

Do You Need a Thicker Skin at Work? Three Tips for Surviving Criticism

study reported by Tara Mohr in the New York Times shows that women have more need to be prepared to handle negative feedback. The study, conducted by Kieran Snyder for Fortune.com found that female employees were given more negative performance reviews than their male counterparts by both male and female managers. The nail in the coffin, though, is that this study also found that “76 percent of the negative feedback given to women included some kind of personality criticism, such as comments that the woman was ‘abrasive,’ or ‘judgmental,’ or ‘strident.’ Only 2 percent of men’s critical reviews included negative personality comments.” These numbers speak to the double bind that women find themselves in when they have to be competent—which includes making tough decisions and getting their ideas heard—while coming across as nice to everyone. Other studies suggest that for women to be perceived as both competent and likeable is probably impossible. Women don’t need a thicker skin at work because we’re somehow weak or fragile—an enduring stereotype used to justify why women are not promoted into leadership in greater numbers. Not only is performance feedback to women more negative, but we Western women also carry in our cellular memory the legacy of a not-so-distant past when our survival depended on being acceptable to power-wielding men. Not so long ago, Western women could not count on protection from the law, could not own property, and could not have bank accounts. Many women around the globe today still have no rights and are dependent on those with power to protect them. When others who are powerful at work are disapproving of us, we can feel like their criticism is the worst possible outcome—because, for a long time, disapproval was life threatening for us. Of course, we want to realize our potential at work and be seen as competent. What this means, though, is that we must, as competent women, learn to expect criticism and learn to manage it on our own terms, grow from it, and not let it undermine our confidence or damage our self-esteem. Here are some tips for how to deal with criticism at work:

  1. Be aware of the big picture. Read about recent research documenting the special challenges that women face in the workplace. Form a book group with colleagues at work, both women and men, to read and discuss several recent books about challenges women face in the workplace. Form a Lean In Circle. These are all good ways to get helpful context for understanding that negative feedback is part of the territory for competent women. Understanding the big picture will help you keep some perspective and sort out what is useful feedback from what may not be about you at all.
  2. Increase your awareness of your strengths. Being grounded in your sense of your own strengths is important. I often encourage the clients I coach to request feedback from coworkers, supervisors, family members, and friends about their strengths—not their weaknesses. We often don’t see ourselves as others see us, and we seldom get feedback on what we do well. Being grounded in your strengths will help you reflect on critical feedback. Feedback should always be considered for what might be useful, but being able to compare the feedback to what you know to be true about yourself and discard what doesn’t fit is crucial. Being self-aware is important, but, at the same time, remember that feedback is often more about the giver of the feedback: some people might be critical just because you are a competent woman.
  3. Build support, especially with other women. Create a “safe space” where you can share experiences and best practices for how to make sense of and cope with negative feedback. While our experiences are not all the same, of course, finding other women who have shared a particular experience in the workplace is helpful. Sharing best practices and hearing that you are not alone can help you stay focused on your career and your goals. Without this type of support, many women lose their confidence and their voice and then give up on their goals.
What has worked for you when you have gotten a negative performance review? Please post your comments, and let’s share best practices.]]>

When Talking about Bias Can Make a Situation Worse

recent New York Times article, Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg shared this brain teaser: A father and a son are in a car accident. The father is killed, and the son is seriously injured. The son is taken to the hospital where the surgeon says, “I cannot operate, because this boy is my son.” I confess that I felt stumped, but I could have kicked myself when I read on and saw the answer. Once again, I caught myself, in spite of all the work I have done on challenging gender stereotypes in myself and others, assuming the surgeon was a man—one of those enduring stereotypes about which gender belongs in a role. The doctor in this story was a woman, and the mother of the victim. This is a humbling reminder of how deeply embedded and unconscious the stereotypes we carry in us can be. Grant and Sandberg report that 40 to 75 percent of people today still can’t figure out the brain teaser above. I have previously written about the ways that gender bias might be creating barriers for women at work. In another recent article about the dearth of women in technology, Google was praised for instituting diversity-training workshops last year based on an emerging field in social psychology known as unconscious bias—the pervasive and hidden reflexive preferences that shape our worldviews and reactions to others. Grant and Sandberg point out, though, that the approach Google used can make the situation worse, if not handled carefully. They cite several recent research studies that show that making people aware of stereotypes about women actually decreased the likelihood that research participants would hire a female candidate or judge her likeable. Here’s the catch: we should not stop making people aware of stereotypes, but we have to be very careful about how we do it. Grant and Sandberg note that research shows that if we just say, “These stereotypes are deeply embedded and common in our society,” people seem to hear the message, “Everyone else is biased, so I don’t need to worry as much about what I say or do.” Instead, researchers say that what makes a difference is taking the additional step to be sure that we explicitly communicate the following messages about these biases:

  • These biases are undesirable and unacceptable.
  • Other people want to conquer these biases, and you should, too.
  • Most people don’t want to discriminate, and you shouldn’t either.
A lot of good news is coming out about the positive difference that gender balance can bring to the workplace and about the strengths women leaders bring. I suggest that we remind the people around us in the workplace of these positive facts to help motivate them, and ourselves, to move past gender biases:
  • Men are more confident, but women are more competent.
  • When women lead, performance improves.
  • Start-ups led by women are more likely to succeed.
  • Innovative firms with more women in top management are more profitable.
  • Companies with more gender balance have more revenue.
Let’s become aware of and point out gender discrimination and bias when we see it. I want gender bias to disappear. Shouldn’t your colleagues and your organization want this, too?]]>

Do You Have a Sponsor? (Not a Mentor)

experience of my clients and recent research show otherwise. Research conducted by Catalyst on 4,000 full-time employed women and men identified as “high potentials” found that women with the same education as their male counterparts, hired at the same time in the same roles, reported significantly less income, job satisfaction, and advancement within a few years of beginning their careers. The Catalyst investigation revealed that the men often received sponsorship, while women received mentorship. Sponsorship differs from mentorship because it goes beyond giving feedback and advice to using the sponsor’s influence with senior executives to advocate for opportunities for the employee. Catalyst’s research concluded that women are overmentored and undersponsored relative to male peers. A special report in 2012 by McKinsey & Company agrees that one of the important barriers to women’s advancement is structural because it is harder for women to get into the right networks of powerful executives. Sylvia Ann Hewlett, in her book, Forget a Mentor: Find a Sponsor, explains the difference between mentors and sponsors this way: mentors give; sponsors invest. She explains that both mentors and sponsors give advice and make introductions, but the difference is that sponsors go out on a limb for you and then make it their business to see you succeed because you carry their brand. In return, protégés work hard, provide a diverse perspective, and help the sponsor realize their vision and goals.

What You Can Do to Find a Sponsor

Sylvia Ann Hewlett suggests the following:
  1. Look around and identify leaders with influence, power, and a voice at decision-making tables. Your mentor may also help you identify potential sponsors.
  2. Choose a sponsor carefully. The people you consider don’t have to be your role models. You don’t have to like or emulate their leadership styles. They shouldn’t be your friends. Sponsors should be two levels above you in a large organization or have the ear of the founder or president in a smaller organization.
  3. Get in front of would-be sponsors (but don’t ask them to be your sponsor):
    1. Ask your manager for stretch assignments that will get you seen by your would-be sponsor.
    2. Request a meeting with your target sponsor for career advice.
    3. Approach your would-be sponsor with an idea for how you can help with a project of interest to him or her. Be concrete about the contribution you want to make, and explain what you are looking for in return (some possibilities include introductions, stretch opportunities or lateral moves).
    4. Cultivate more than one sponsor—one inside your organization and one outside.
Push yourself! And don’t forget to “pay it forward” by being a sponsor to others when the opportunity arises.]]>

Where Are the Women in Technology?

number of women in computer science has dropped off steeply in the last twenty years, while the technology industry has grown dramatically, and technology companies are complaining that they cannot find enough workers. Here are some interesting facts:

  • In 1985, women made up 37 percent of undergraduates majoring in computer sciences. In 2012, less than 18 percent were women, according to the National Science Foundation.
  • In 1990, 34 percent of those employed in computer occupations were women. By 2011, 27 percent were women, according to the US Census Bureau.
  • An editorial in the New York Times on October 25, 2014, shared that a 2008 report published by the Harvard Business Review found that women quit high-tech jobs at twice the rate of men.
  • At Microsoft, only 17 percent of the technological positions are occupied by women, which is average in the industry.
No one factor can explain the poor representation of women in technology, but the unwelcoming cultures and biases in many technology companies have to play a big part. Consider these challenges women face in technology environments:
  • Being the only woman on a team or in a meeting can get lonely.
  • Masculine workplace cultures often value or condone very combative and competitive behavior that is uncomfortable for many women.
  • Women often feel talked down to or are given subtle messages that they don’t belong in technology.
  • Some women feel their male bosses give credit to male peers for work they have done. They feel invisible.
There is a general cluelessness among many male leaders. The chief executive at Microsoft recently told a room full of professional women that they don’t need to ask for raises. They should just trust the system to be equitable, and they will get raises if their karma is good. Really? Where has he been? My niece recently graduated from engineering school where she was one of very few women. She now has her first job with a large aeronautics company, and she loves her job. She was crying when she called me one day recently. One of her male peers had said to her, “Forget about advancing here. Just look around. You’ll see that women don’t make it as engineers, and you won’t make it either.” She asked me, “Is it true?” This conversation with her broke my heart. A spate of recent articles have put a spotlight on the gender gap in technology companies. This attention is causing some of these companies to admit they need to change and become more welcoming to women. This is hopeful. Women are just as talented in math and science as men, and we want jobs that pay well like those in technology. What we need is the chance to work in environments where we can thrive. Let’s keep up the pressure for change.  ]]>

Can I Be Your Friend and Your Boss?

I really like one of the women I supervise, and we have become friends. We’ve started socializing outside of work, and I really enjoy her company. Lately she has been coming in late and leaving early. I feel she is taking advantage of our friendship, but it is awkward for me. I don’t know what to say or how to say it. I am really uncomfortable with confrontation, and I don’t want to damage our friendship. What should I do? Gladys needs to learn to handle two challenges in this situation: (1) dealing with conflict or confrontation and (2) eliminating boundary confusion to have healthy relationships with coworkers as both a boss and a friend. Women in my research and my women clients frequently report these as common challenges.

Avoiding Conflict

Paula, a nurse who participated in my research on women’s relationships in the workplace, sums up the theme of avoiding conflict with friends as follows, “We weren’t raised that way [to be direct and confrontational]. We were told that women didn’t do that … you were to be seen and not heard.” “Seen and not heard”—I remember being told this when I was growing up. I thought I had to avoid confrontation because it could damage a relationship and was not “nice.” But I eventually realized that damage to the relationship was much more likely to occur by avoiding conflict and not dealing directly with differences. By letting bad feelings pile up, I was creating distance and mixed messages. Dealing directly with misunderstandings or hurt feelings and clearing them up actually makes relationships stronger. Many of us don’t have the skills to be direct, but excellent resources are available for learning these skills.

Boundary Confusion

Boundary confusion grows out of one of our strengths as women—we are often comfortable with having fluid boundaries and developing friendships with bosses and colleagues at work. Scholars agree that women tend to emphasize the fluid nature of the boundaries between personal life and work life. But fluid boundaries can also cause confusion. Scholars, and about 25 percent of the women in my research, propose that women bosses learn to distinguish between being friends and being friendly with other women at work. I would go a step further and say that this does not need to be an either/or option. We can be both friends and friendly as the boss, but we need to be able to name our role—boss or friend—in any given interaction. We also need to have a clear understanding of how the relational expectations differ for these two roles.

Use a Tool Called Role Hats

Gladys can be the boss of her friend, and they can be friends outside of work. I say “outside of work” because it is important that Gladys’s other direct reports not see her showing favoritism in the work environment toward her friend. The key is for Gladys and her friend to learn how to discuss and negotiate their roles and relationship boundaries. Sharon, the CEO of a healthcare services organization, describes a useful tool called role hats: To be friends at work requires total transparency. I explicitly name the role that I’m coming from—boss or friend. And we are always clear about how the hats work—what I can and cannot talk about when I have my boss hat on and how I see my responsibilities. We can also be friends outside of work as long as we stay clear about our hats. The key, then, is to be explicit about your expectations. Gladys can let her friend know that as the boss she is responsible for managing the workload and morale of her department. Accordingly, her friend cannot come in late and leave early. Here are some steps she (and you) can take to clarify role boundaries at work:
  1. Start by sharing your desire to maintain your friendship and have a good work relationship as well.
  2. Name all the functional roles involved in the relationship, such as boss, friend, or colleague.
  3. Discuss each person’s needs in each role, and really listen to each other.
  4. Exchange suggestions for behaviors that could meet each person’s needs in each role.
  5. Establish ground rules for how you will alert each other to your use of a role hat, such as:
    1. Ask me which hat I’m wearing.
    2. Ask me to change hats any time, and I will tell you if I can and why (or why not).
Good relationships, both inside of work and outside, are important for our well-being, satisfaction, and success. Keeping them strong and healthy takes some effort, but it’s worth it!]]>

Are Women Better Decision Makers?

recent article in the New York Times by Therese Huston says yes!—women are better decision makers in stressful situations. Huston cites research by several neuroscientists that shows that in low-stress situations, women and men make decisions about risk in similar ways. When stress is introduced, however, women bring some unique strengths to the table that result in better decisions. Here are some examples of the positive impact women have had:

  • Credit Suisse examined 2,400 global corporations from 2005 to 2011, which includes the years just before and after the financial crisis, and found that companies with at least one woman on their board outperformed comparable companies with all-male boards by 26 percent.
  • Several studies show that investments run by female hedge-fund managers outperformed those run by male managers.

Read moreAre Women Better Decision Makers?

Why Confidence Matters for Women and How to Get More of It

  • Doubted yourself and felt you didn’t deserve a promotion or success?
  • Felt you were a fraud or an imposter?
  • Blamed yourself when a project or exam did not go well?
  • Realized you had asked for less than you could have gotten in a negotiation?
  • Obsessed about being perfect as you researched, prepared, or copyedited your presentation?
  • Hesitated about putting yourself forward for a promotion or other opportunity?
  • If any of these thoughts, feelings, or actions are familiar, you are in good company. Scholars Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, in their Atlantic Monthly article, “The Confidence Gap,” summarize a large collection of research that shows the negative impact of women’s lack of confidence:
    • Men overestimate and women underestimate their readiness for promotions, their abilities, and their actual performance. Women apply for promotions only when they meet 100 percent of the qualifications. Men apply when they meet only 50 percent.
    • Men initiate salary negotiations four times more often than women do, and women ask for 30 percent less money when they do negotiate.
    • Women assume blame when things go wrong, and men blame external circumstances.
    • Women feel the pressure of perfectionism—which actually limits productivity—much more than men.

     What You Can Do to Overcome the Confidence Gap

    Though the confidence gap may seem daunting, you can overcome it. The following actions can help you increase your confidence in the workplace—and beyond:

    Develop a Support System

    Create and nurture a support system of people, women and men, who understand the gender dynamics related to confidence. Your support system should include people from your personal, professional, and organizational contexts who will challenge and encourage you to put yourself forward for opportunities that you may not feel you are qualified for, negotiate for higher salaries and fees, and stretch yourself to do “good enough” work rather than trying to be perfect. As an executive coach, I often push my female clients to ask for double the amount they were going to ask for—or for a significantly higher title than the one offered—and they often get it. And as we know, women have to “smile” while negotiating to avoid being seen as too assertive and, therefore, unlikeable.

    2. Be an Ally to Others and an Effective Boss

    Other women need you to challenge and encourage them to ask for more and to do “good enough” work. Male colleagues can also be important allies, and both male and female bosses need to help their female employees overcome the confidence gap. Many male bosses hesitate to tell female employees that they seem to lack confidence for fear of being seen as sexist. In fact, they may see a female employee as not being ready for a promotion if she doesn’t speak out in meetings when she may feel she is too junior to participate. Understanding gender dynamics can help bosses see that they need to use different approaches to support male and female staff. One of my coaching clients, a male CEO who has an all-female management team, does a great job of seeing the pattern and naming it. He pushes his female managers to apply for promotions they don’t think they are ready for and to face challenges that they hesitate to take on. They have responded to his encouragement and gone on to great success.

    3. Build Skills

    The good news is that showing confidence involves skills that can be learned. Classes in negotiation, presentation, meeting management, and feedback skills can help you feel and be perceived as more confident. A women’s leadership development program can teach you more about how to be successful in the business environment while leveraging your unique strengths as a woman. Scholar Richard Petty says, “Confidence is the stuff that turns thoughts into action.” Don’t hesitate. Even in the face of self-doubt, which will always be lurking just under the surface for many of us, push yourself! Each success will build your confidence.]]>