Yes, gender discrimination still exists. But studies show sometimes women are their own worst enemies.
Consider this data from a study of workplace confidence levels by Europe’s Institute of Leadership and Management:
- Men were more confident across all age groups; 70% of males have high or very high levels of self-confidence, compared to 50% of the women surveyed
- 50% of women managers admitted to feelings of self-doubt about their performance and career; only 31% of men reported the same, and
- 20% of men said they would apply for a promotion despite only partially meeting its job description, compared to 14% of women.
Clearly, according the study, women place limits on themselves and their careers. Those limits are reflected in four career-killing behaviors described by the (female) authors of the book Break Your Own Rules: How to Change the Patterns of Thinking that Block Women’s Paths to Power:
- Being too modest. Men are more willing to take public credit for their successes. Women believe their accomplishments should speak for themselves, and they spend less effort ensuring they get credit. Some modesty is a good character trait, but it’s probably a mistake to assume that a boss, co-workers or clients will automatically recognize your contributions.
- Not asking for more. Women often fail to get promoted simply because they fail to step up and apply for it. The common reason: Many women judge that behavior as too risky.
- Avoiding attention. Some women don’t want to stand out — in meetings, in the boardroom or even in the elevator. The authors describe one woman whose fear was riding the elevator and having to have a conversation with the CEO. “Blending in’ means missing opportunities to stand out and sell your ideas.
- Remaining silent. It’s not easy to get a word in during meetings, and sometimes you even have to step on a few toes. A common trait among women in those situations is to say nothing.