A more nuanced perspective
So… what is the absolute truth? Like many other debates and societal issues, there are multiple sides. While it might be true that women apply less to jobs than men when they don’t meet all the requirements, the acute lack of confidence in women has been disproven in more recent studies. Research shows no signs of a female modesty effect – “women rate themselves no lower than their male counterparts in leadership-related dimensions“. Moreover, studies aren’t finding any consistent gender differences when it comes to self-reported self-confidence.
Interesting to point is that the problem might lay in the appearance of self-confidence. In a study by Mayo, Karelaia & Guillen, it was found that women’s self-reported confidence was often different from the extent to which others perceive a woman as self-confident. They found that even “among similarly high-performing workers, appearing self-confident did not translate into influence equally for men and women. For women, but not for men, influence was closely tied to perceptions of warmth – how caring and prosocial they seemed. Moreover, women’s self-reported confidence did not correlate with how confident these women appeared to others”. Therefore, the benefits and appearance of self-confidence are gendered, putting woman at a disadvantage. Women are not necessarily struggling with self-confidence problems, but with the failure of the organisations and systems they are part of to create a gender-equal workplace in which double standards are not tolerated.
So, let’s encourage companies to implement changes in their job requirements, recruitment marketing, as well as work culture. The glass ceiling is to be broken by women, but they cannot do so without an environment that provides them with the same resources, opportunities and rewards that men are provided with.