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"I believe that education is the civil rights issue of our generation." – U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan, October 9, 2009

Women: Don’t Be the Roadblock To Your Own Success

I came across a great TED-Ed talk the other day that is related to my recent blog post on how women still earn less than men for equal work. Led by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, she posits a couple of reasons why we have too few women leaders. I think the reasons she gives can not only explain why so few women hold top positions in professions but also why they are still earning 91 cents for every dollar men earn. Here are some interesting points she made:

  1. Women methodically underestimate their own abilities. Why is it that after men finish an exam they feel like they nailed it and women leave the test thinking, ‘I should have studied ____ more in depth…’
  2. Women attribute their success to external factors and men attribute their success to internal factors. Women tend to think they got the A or they got the job because they simply got lucky or because they worked hard. Men on the other hand, believe in their pure awesomeness.
  3. Success and likability are positively correlated for men but negatively correlated for women.
  4. Men are reaching for opportunities more than women. Women need to reach for the promotion and “sit at the table.”
  5. There is more societal pressure for boys to succeed than girls.
  6. We have to make work in the home, raising children important for both men and women.
  7. In thinking about starting a family, many women stop reaching for new opportunities when they should be reaching for the promotion.

From this talk I learned that when applying or interviewing for a job, I need to own my successes. I shouldn’t be concerned with being modest, if I did something awesome that is very applicable to the job position and will give me a competitive edge, I am going to emphasize it an own it. I shouldn’t let myself be intimidated by other male applicants—I am just as strong and as qualified as they are. In the future, I need to remind myself to keep looking for new opportunities and to not lean back. And lastly, I need to trust in my own abilities. I can’t imagine anyone who demonstrated a lack of confidence or was unsure of his or her skills and abilities ever got the job or promotion. That will certainly not be me.

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2 thoughts on “Women: Don’t Be the Roadblock To Your Own Success

  1. Those are some very good points! I relate to… yup, all of them!

    What can we do? It is so easy for me to say, “Next time I meet with my Professor, I am going to tell him how much I helped on Project X!!” but then when I meet him, instead I say, “Sorry I haven’t finished Project Y, but I am trying my hardest…”

    How can we stop feeling bashful about our abilities?? I don’t want to go down the path of being paid less and promoted less, but I don’t want to be what I see as a pompous jerk, either…

    • alison2012internship on said:

      I understand what you mean, sometimes it is hard to come off as confident but not cocky. But in the end I think being confident and sure of yourself wins. The employer most likely wants to know how you can be of value to them and how you can make them money. I think women have been socialized to be “too nice.”

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