Updated: May 14
Women enjoy opportunities today that our mothers, much less our grandmothers, never had. Neither of our grandmothers learnt to drive. None had the option to attend college. Yet despite this progress, many women still lag behind men on many markers – still struggle to ‘have it all’ or to at least feel to feel good about ‘all’ that we do have.
Most of all, we still struggle to believe in ourselves; to feel confident in who we are and about what we do. Of course, not all men ooze self-confidence, and not all women lack it. However, the ‘gender confidence gap’ is real and closing it is as much as the lynchpin to addressing gender inequity as the many other forces that have contributed to it.
This is not to downplay the external and systemic barriers or negate the need to address them. From entrenched ‘think manager, think male’ gender normsto a paucity of sponsors opening doors for women higher up, or strong female role models inspiring the ambitions of younger women further down. I believe the biggest barrier many women must contend with is in our own heads. Dismantle that internal hurdle and the external ones become far more scalable.
All too often what holds women back is not our actual ability, but how we perceive our ability due the yardstick we’re measuring it against.Lowering the bar to ‘good enough’ liberates time and energy toward more productive pursuits. Rather than spending hours perfecting a presentation beyond any point of discernible incremental value we can spend the time on higher ‘value add’ activities – developing talents, diversifying our network or doing more of what we really want to do and not what we think we ‘should do’. Speaking of should we…
Our ‘shoulds’ are a melting pot of unspoken rules, social standards, norms and expectations about what a good woman/mother/wife should (or should not) do in order to be likable, worthy and desirable. We may have more rights and opportunities but we still only have 24 hours in a day and we still can’t be in two places at once.
Next time you catch yourself uttering the word should replace it with could and add in a second or third option that reflects what you really want to do. E.g. I could stay up until 1 a.m. making cupcakes for the kids bake sale tomorrow or I could pick some up at the grocers and call it a night. Warning: this could be life changing.
Have fun embracing the Now aspect of your life.