Chapter 6Can Women Have Gravitas?

One of the questions that I'm asked the most in my work is: can women have gravitas? To this, I give a resounding yes! However, I still see crises of confidence in women when it comes to speaking and delivering that centre around the belief that they cannot, in fact, have gravitas. This must be remedied.

Much of the research around confidence is done in the workplace. Some of the most concerning statistics are reflected in a 2011 study by the Institute of Leadership & Management in the United Kingdom, where British women were asked how confident they feel in their professions. The overwhelming answer was ‘not very’, while, on the other hand, less than a third of their male colleagues reported self-doubt.1

Other disturbing research shows that men initiate salary negotiations four times as often as women2 and that women report salary expectations between 3 and 32 per cent lower than those of men for the same jobs.3

The problem reaches murkier depths when we discover that men consistently overestimate their abilities, while women consistently underestimate theirs. In addition, Hewlett-Packard found women only applied for jobs when they were 100 per cent certain of the job requirements. Men applied with a 60 per cent degree of certainty.4 This is known as the ‘male hubris, female humility effect’5 and, importantly (and sadly), it's demonstrative of the crisis of confidence that women are experiencing in the workplace.

It is also a worry to know ...

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