Confident Women – What Do You Do?

If I have to give a very quick answer to the dreaded “And what do you do, Jane?’ I usually say I develop and deliver courses for women. If the suffragettesconversation continues (and trust me, that answer can be a conversation killer sometimes!) I’ll say, I help give women the confidence to do what they want to do. The inevitable question follows about why I think women need that. Most of us know lots of very confident women, don’t we?

And yet report after report highlights lack of confidence as a factor in keeping women from power. (That and a myriad of other reasons of course!) It’s not a day to day confidence issue but something deeper and more difficult to pin down. Why do women not apply for promotion until they know their current job inside out, for instance? Why are women still paid less then men for comparable jobs? Why aren’t we demanding equal pay? Why do boys get more talking  time in the classroom  than girls? Why do both women and men think women talk too much in meetings yet the research shows that men talk the most? Why do men regularly interrupt women who are talking, however much higher in status that women is than them, and not interrupt male colleagues in the same way?

Almost everything I do comes back to that confidence issue, whether it’s writing courses like RenewYou, or coaching one to one, or delivering a change seminar within an organisation. Of course, the way our society has evolved in the West has been controlled and designed by men, inevitably, as they got there first. Women’s contribution in society is rarely highlighted and work mores and practices have evolved to suit men, not women. Tracey Emin, artist, recently said her career would have been very different had she been a man. She would have been as talented, but she would have been received differently and it would have taken a different, easier path.

Because I am so passionate about women feeling able to do just what they want and not be poured into a mould, or to grow up with their aspirations curtailed, I am also a passionate feminist. The way women are portrayed in the media is one of the significant factors in undermining women’s confidence and in giving a biased message to both genders.

It’s a hard nut to crack; men are mainly still in charge and most men and women don’t even see the bias that is shown. Just take a look at all the usual forms of media: your daily newspaper (yes, even the quality ones), the films in your local cinema, your local newsagents magazine rack. Can you look at them and say both genders are equal?

It won’t change unless we challenge it and highlight the issues. Which is why I am a wholehearted supporter of movements like The Women’s Room and No More Page Three and why almost every thing I do is about giving women the confidence to challenge the status quo and live the life they really genuinely choose.

You can read an interview with Caroline Criedo -Perez, the creator of the Women’s Room by clicking the link. The face behind No More Page Three is Lucy Ann Holmes and this is her interview with me.

Thinking of expanding your training business? Are you passionate about empowering women? I can help you. To find out how, click here.

I cannot attribute this picture so please let me know if you can.

Posted on May 24th, 2013 by

One Response to “Confident Women – What Do You Do?”

  1. Tammy says:

    Hi Jane, deep questions for us to think about. I believe the answers have to do with women still being treated as second class citizens i.e. not having equal value. Therefore, when aiming for a promotion, some supervisors/managers go through a check-list of competence to determine if the woman is qualified while for a man he just assumes he will learn it on the job. We could demand equal pay but then there are comments like “men still have to foot the bill for women so they need more pay”. When women speak we are interrupted because some men do not respect women enough to listen to our points and then comment afterwards. He would not interrupt another man because they have more perceived power and influence.

    Traditionally women were Secretaries or assistants and that image still remains. Similarly, when some men make mistakes they justify their actions while women are seen as incompetent. It is the same reason that men can watch sports at work but if women discuss shopping or home décor it is viewed as inappropriate. The same reason women are judged by their outfits while men could wear the same clothes and not be frowned upon. Men can complain about having a tough/bad day while women would be seen as whining.

    Some of these questions could be changed to also address why managers and non-mgmt staff are treated differently. It is about the perceived value whether based on money, power or influence. I also agree that most times men and women do not see the bias but directly or indirectly continue to support it.

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