If You're a Woman, You Deserve a Raise.


It's All About Confidence.

Most of the time, I like men. And I hope we're beyond disputing the competency of women. We make up 57% of college students in America. We are half the workforce, and are closing in on middle management. Studies conducted by Goldman Sachs and Columbia University have found that companies who hire more women outperform their competitors on all measures of profitability. Its clear to see that society is moving in a female direction.

Yet for some annoying reason, men around us are promoted faster and are paid more. At the top of the business chain women are nearly absent, and the numbers are barely increasing. Despite what some may say, the numbers don't lie. It isn't all maternal instincts to balance work and home lives, or even a tyrannical board of men hellbent on keeping women from the top. It is a phenomenon The Atlantic likes to call "The Confidence Gap".

Claire Shipman and Katty Kay, the authors of Womenomics, which looks at the positive changes unolding for women in recent years, were shocked to find that accomplished women were being held back by something. They asked, "Why did the successful investment banker mention to us that she didn't really deserve the big promotion she'd just got?"

The two women were intrigued and decided to delve further, talking to more highly successful women. They hoped to find examples of "raw, flourishing female confidence." As they looked more closely (even inside themselves) they realized that they couldn't find a single woman who wasn't plagued by self-doubt. There was no tyrannical board of men holding women hostage on the dark side of the wage gap.

The biggest crisis for women is a vast "confidence gap". Compared with men, women don't believe they are worthy for promotions. They predicted that they'd do worse on tests, and in general underestimate their abilities.

The journalists and authors dug even deeper into this phenomenon. It turns out, success correlates just as closely with confidence as competence. It makes sense why women are underrepresented in the highest business levels. The good news is that confidence doesn't just come from nowhere. It can be acquired through work. The confidence gap can be closed.

Linda Babcock, a professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon University, found that men initiate salary negotiations four times as often as women do. Not only that, when women do negotiate, they ask for 30% less than men do. It statistically rings true that men overestimate their abilities while women underestimate them. It also was found that women applied for promotions when they were 100% qualified. Men applied when they were only 50%.

The evidence is all here, ladies. We need to stop overthinking and just act. Neuroscientists tell us everyday how versatile our brains are. We can change our pattern of thinking. If we keep working hard, we make our brains more confidence prone.

So, ladies, what should we do to develop more confidence and fill the gap? I'm not one to talk without action, and no woman should be. There are plenty of concrete ways to increase confidence. Here are a few. First, visualize. This is a technique of seeing an image of yourself that you are proud of in your mind. Low confidence comes from a poor perception of ourselves (an inaccurate perception). Don't hold back! Visualize an incredible version of yourself achieving your goals.

Second, do one thing that scares you every day. Good news about your insecurities: everyone else has them too. The best way to face fear is to stop procrastinating and face it. By proving to yourself you that you can do things that scare you, your self-confidence blossoms. Go out of your comfort zone! What good has sitting still ever done you?

Third, question your inner critic. No one spends as much time with us as ourselves. That means we are present for every little mistake. But Louise L. Hay, bestselling author, put it best "You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens." Find moments to congratulate yourself! Look for evidence that proves your inner critic wrong.

Fourth, help someone else. I know. It seems contradictory. Why should I help someone else when I'm the one who needs help? Psychologists show that helping others enables us to forget about ourselves. Gratitude for what we have is essential for both happiness and confidence and doesn't it feel good when you make a difference for someone else?

Fifth is to care for yourself. Good physical, emotional, and social health are so important and often glossed over. It's hard to have confidence when you hate your physique and are starved for energy. Make an exercise plan, revamp your sleeping habits, and dress the way you want to feel.

If this seems daunting, just choose one or two for now. You'll be surprised at the difference in how you feel after completing even one of these tasks. If you don't feel confident, follow renowned psychologist Amy Cuddy's words "Fake it until you become it."

amanda eakin