Women have long suspected that there were bigger hurdles for them to leap when it comes to a successful career. Given there are far few women in managerial and board-level positions than men, it appears we were correct. But the barriers that trip us up the most might surprise you.
According to research by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM), ‘women managers are impeded in their careers by lower ambitions and expectations.’
We have bought into a self-fulfilling prophecy of our own making. The lack of women in leadership positions fosters the belief that it is harder for women to succeed. But that belief is the very thing that creates a barrier. It is not, as many of us have assumed, a barrier in and of itself.
Imposter syndrome is common among career-driven women and manifests as low self-esteem and self-doubt. ILM found that 50% of women in managerial positions suffer from self-doubt, compared to only 30% of their male peers. A lack of self-belief in their career skills leads many women to undersell themselves.
Women work hard and expect to be rewarded for it while men push for promotions and career progression. This is reflected in job application trends where women will only apply for a role if they fully, or at least almost completely, fulfil all the required skills. On the other hand, men have no problem reaching for the sky, applying for roles where they only somewhat meet the criteria.
Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien (perfect is the enemy of the good), as Voltaire’s popular aphorism goes, also applies here. The phrase suggests that being overly concerned with perfection hinders success of any kind. If you are afraid to fail, that you will never reach perfection, you won’t even try.
Stop waiting for the perfect opportunities to come to you and push yourself towards your career goals instead.
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