I struggle with my “woman in business” label. I consider myself a person in business, but I am aware that being a “person in business” didn’t get women the opportunities that emerged when companies began to focus on the value and unique benefits of having women on the team and in leadership roles. I also know so many successful and capable women in business through friendship circles, the financial world, my volunteer work, and in our firm that I often wonder if we are ready to drop the women in business title and accept that women should be expected to be in business, right next to men.
Unfortunately, I know from my research that massive gaps remain between women and men. The gaps are in wages at all levels, from entry level to top positions, and in leadership at all levels, from vice presidents to CEOs to board seats. The gaps are not, interestingly, in the level of education. According to the US Department of Education, women are educating themselves at a higher rate than men, a trend that is not expected to reverse without some intervention.
In the debate about the wage gap, another gap is often cited as a root cause: the confidence gap. Ugh. The much-discussed cover story in the May 2014 edition of The Atlantic, titled “The Confidence Gap,” detailed how this plays out for women, and the research to back it up. The assertion is that women are just not naturally as confident as men are, and this holds them back in all sorts of ways, including how much they are paid. One of the most startling statistics from the article that has stayed with me is that women applied for a promotion only when they met 100% of the qualifications, while men applied when they met 50%.
Interestingly, The Atlantic came out with another article last week entitled, “A Lack of Confidence Isn’t What’s Holding Back Working Women.” The new research says that there is not, in fact, a confidence gap. Women, on the whole, are confident in who they are and what they can provide in the workplace. Instead, the way that women show confidence at work is not the same way that men do, and we are all more used to seeing men display acts of confidence. When women try to be confident like a man, it just seems to not go over as well.
Far smarter people than me will continue to study this for years and decades to come. But my laboratory is the work I do every day with clients and the conversations I have with women in business, and in art, and in medicine, and in writing, and in teaching, and in design. What I know from my ongoing study on how humans succeed is that the male way of asking for an opportunity may not be the most useful way for women to ask for opportunity.
Which is just fine.
Women might really have a confidence gap, or there might really be a backlash against women who ask for more money, or workplaces might need to change their vibe about how all employees ask for more. Any and all of that may be true, but the problem persists: women still don’t match men in wages or opportunities.
This is precisely what motivated us to do something about it. While the debate rages on about why women make less, Money + Mindset sets out to teach women how to change it in their own lives, right here, and right now. At Money + Mindset, we’ve talked about how important it is for women to be happy, healthy, and shockproof. We’ve talked about spending and how we can use our own values to use our money to have the lives we want. We’ve talked about being actively involved in the money decisions for our household.
Now we’re kicking it up a notch.
The next installment of our Money + Mindset event series is on October 18, and will focus on the art and science of negotiation. Our panel will provide our female audience with an understanding of the tools for successful negotiation, how opportunities are maximized in the workplace, and how using your outstanding qualities can be a benefit to both you and your employer.
This much I know for sure: if you don’t ask for opportunities, you won’t get them. Join us by clicking here.