Whilst there is undoubtedly still a gender confidence gap, it’s not as big as we think, according to the survey that I conducted in February 2019. 56% of women said they were often or always bothered by their level of confidence, compared to 44% of men. There could be a number of reasons for this, women could be more confident than they have been in the past and perhaps men are now being more open about their insecurities too.
Both are heartening.
There has been a real movement to empower women over the last decade through personal and professional development and it seems to be making some inroads.
Men opening up about how they feel can only be a good thing, considering the mental health challenges facing men - just over three out of every four suicides (76%) are committed by men and suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 35. (Reference: ONS) Age was shown to be an important factor in confidence levels. Not only does it increase with age and experience, but it also decreases in later life according to Garrett’s findings.
People often think that young people are uber-confident, but the research showed that those under 24 were not as confident as we think, citing their lack of experience as a big factor.
In later life confidence can decline due to ill health, loss of loved ones and loss of the identity that comes with a job title.
As a population that is living longer, this is an area that needs to be considered. How can we empower those over 55, some of whom may also be experiencing loneliness? Hobbies, entrepreneurial pursuits and support groups could be solutions. ‘Imposter Syndrome’ or the sense that as a visible minority you doubt your accomplishments and have a persistent internalised fear of being exposed as a fraud, plays a significant role in confidence levels. 52% of those surveyed said they felt their level of confidence often or always held them back. When asked what has negatively impacted their confidence, respondents most commonly cited their boss and colleagues, this was followed by early life experiences.
Acas reported in 2015 that workplace bullying was on the rise, and according to this new research it appears to have long-lasting negative impacts.
Bullying by a boss or colleagues is difficult to handle, your confidence suffers if you stick it out, or you leave your role prematurely. Much more needs to be done to educate bosses about their behaviour and to protect the employee, so they can report bullying if it takes place.
The playground bully shouldn't be allowed to continue doing this in the workplace. We need to help managers recognise the impact of their behaviour on staff confidence and the implications for workplace happiness, productivity and success. 67% of those surveyed thought that new experiences had increased their confidence. Such as going for a promotion, learning a new skill or moving to another country.
In short, anything that made them step out of their comfort zone. The volunteering sector could benefit from this, providing a safe space for people to develop their skills and experience to take back into the workplace.
This research took place via an online survey in February 2019. There were 427 respondents, 76% of whom live in the UK.
Do these findings resonate with you?
What have you done to regain your confidence after a setback?
Does a lack of confidence hold you back?
The full findings are available at: https://www.jennygarrett.global/confidence-survey-findings/.