So Women Leaders Are ‘Less Confident’ Than Men…

08.3.16a Cross arms 115x96 001aa.jpgSenior women leaders are often criticised for being less confident than the men, and for feeling unable to delegate. Is this any wonder, when those very men don’t play fair? It’s time for sexist attitudes in the corridors of power to be challenged head-on – which is exactly what Margot Wallström, Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders Ministerial Initiative, has just been doing.

The truth is, men choose men. It is as simple as that – not a question of lack of ambition, of interest or of aptitude from women.
So, in her article A thick layer of men, says Margot Wallström, Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders Ministerial Initiative, a network of current and former women presidents, prime ministers and ministers aiming ‘to promote good governance and enhance democracy globally by increasing the number, effectiveness, and visibility of women who lead at the highest levels in their countries’.
Chaps’ clubs
Well, I of course agree. There has to be some explanation of the neglect of women’s (much-needed) talents, and the most obvious is that they’re not part of the Gang. Until 90 years ago, women in the UK weren’t even permitted to vote, let alone to be members of the UK’s ultimate chaps’ club, Parliament, where many of the really big decisions are made.
We all know that the dynamic of debate and decision-making changes as the gender ratio also changes, both for men and for women.
And of course some men are always fairminded and exemplary in their professional conduct and beliefs; but sadly not as yet in sufficient numbers to secure the fundamental changes essential for genuine gender (or other) equality.
Determined rather than confident?
Maybe this explains claims at the moment that there may now be more women taking leadership roles, but these women are ‘less confident‘ than their male peers, and feel more obliged to ‘check the detail’ and don’t like to delegate.
You can only let the detail go, and feel confident, if you know that what you ask to be done, is indeed being done.
The next step towards gender equality can only be taken by the male half of the workforce. When men (and some other women) are as amenable to women as to men issuing the orders, leaders who happen to be female will feel confident that they don’t need to check up on everything.
Challenge the sexism, not the upshot
Until that’s fully grasped – and until ungendered collaboration and compliance in the workplace becomes a required part of professional behaviour for everyone – criticism of women’s leadership styles is, quite simply, unfair and out of order.
All power, I say, to Margot Wallström’s elbow, as she puts the ball back firmly in the chaps’ court.

Posted on March 16, 2008, in Education, Health And Welfare, Equality, Diversity And Inclusion, Politics, Policies And Process. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I am a Senior Manager in a Large International Company, I delegate and show confidence in my work environment. However, I do not network or attend hosted events as I have a child at home and I do not belong to the ‘boys club’.
    This holds me back, I know that I am paid less than my male colleagues.
    I am between a rock and a hard place though, if I request equal pay then I will be expected to take part in all of the extra curricular activities that form part of being a Senior Manager. I cannot do this as I need to spend my non working hours at home, not socialising and climbing the corporate ladder.
    In my male colleagues eyes this shows weakness and possibly transaltes, to them, as lack of confidence; as I do not wish to attend their social gatherings.

  2. Agnieszka Lichanska

    I do not think that we lack confidence. Most women are very confident in what they do as leaders at various levels. In some cases we are just not allowed, for various reasons, to show the leadership.
    The problem I noticed though is that while in theory we have equality in the workplace this remains mostly on paper. Hiring and promotion decisions are still made by the executives of one sort of another (unfortunately majority men) and in some countries and some industries as well as at some job levels even a thought of a female leader is unthinkable.
    I have never had a problem with delegating or respect from men. As soon as they see I know what I am talking about and I mean what I say there are no more silly remarks.

  3. I often worry about stereotyping women as “less confident” “less able to delegate”. I can suffer terrible bouts of lack of confidence but as you say I don’t show it. And I have not met a man who, after a couple of glasses of wine, will not also admit to feeling lack of confidence sometimes. So perhaps we just express it differently.
    But I’m very good at delegating – I learned a long time ago that people will not do the job the same way as me and in fact because I’m the boss they will often take more time and do it not as well – BUT – they sometimes do it better than me and always approach the problem from a different angle – which is very valuable.
    I’m learning that the best armour against lack of confidence is to remember that everyone feels this sometimes and if you admit it to friends – rather than bottling it up – it just seems to go away!

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