Closing the Confidence Gap: How to Instill More Confidence in Women & Girls in STEM
Women all over the world understand what it takes to be seen as equal to any male counterpart. In the US today, women make up more than 50% of the college-educated workforce; however, men continue to hold more positions of power and leadership. It’s not news but it is fact. So, how can this be? What can we do to fix this? While the answers to these questions can be long and complicated, one thing we can all do is work on closing the confidence gap. By instilling more confidence in women in girls in STEM, we can work to flip the script and create an equal and inclusive workforce.
The Confidence Gap
So, what is the confidence gap? This term, originally coined by Dr. Russ Harris, discloses some of the underlying psychological explanations as to why men have traditionally outperformed women in the workforce regardless of the fact that women typically outperform men academically. What is the biggest trigger of this phenomenon? Confidence, or lack thereof.
For most, the creation of the confidence gap starts at birth. Traditionally, girls are seen as fragile, quiet, and sweet, while boys are seen as loud, resilient, and raucous. These predisposed ideas of what traits each gender should possess set up certain expectations for people to live up to. From here, girls are often raised to be “lady-like”, caring, nurturing, and reserved and boys are raised to be outgoing, outspoken, a “man's man”, and authoritative. Even if parents choose to reject these predispositions, kids often receive different treatment or expectations through education, socialization, and their peers.
Why is this important to understand? Without calling out the existence of the confidence gap, we can’t work to close it. Closing the confidence gap is going to take a village. This includes the work of educators, parents and guardians, companies, politicians, and society as a whole. At Integrant, we work diligently to uplift and inspire the women at our company and within the STEM field to be the best they can be. Today, we’ll teach you how you can help to close the confidence gap.
Curious to know how we helped our clients create their impact in the software industry? Check out our case studies!
Closing the Confidence Gap
As we said, closing the confidence gap will take a village. So, we’re going to provide ways that women as well as companies can work to close the gap. Let’s get started.
What You Can Do
We’ve all heard it before - positive thoughts equal a positive mind. Well, we’re saying it again. Positive thoughts equal a positive mind. Actively practicing positive self-talk helps create the mindset that you are exactly where you are supposed to be, you can do whatever you put your mind to, and you’re worth more and deserve better. One tip for practicing positive self-talk is to write down a list of specific affirmations and repeat them to yourself out loud every day. Here is a set of positive affirmations you could start with:
- I am smart.
- I am loved.
- I am worthy of everything I have.
- I am continuously creating, expanding, and nurturing myself.
- I am excellent at my job.
- I excel in everything I put my mind to.
- I am everything I want to be.
Redefining your Mindset
While positive self-talk will help to redefine your mindset, there are more ways to help kick start this mission. One big way to start redefining your mindset is by altering your perspective. You can look at the reality of gender inequality in STEM and tell yourself it’s just the way it is and something you have to live with, or you can acknowledge the inequality and then decide that it is something that can be tackled and dismantled. Remind yourself of all of the ways that the world has changed already and decide that this too can transform into the world we all deserve to live in.
How to Filter Feedback
Critics are not just for the arts. In STEM and in everyday life, critics are everywhere. The best thing you can do is learn how to take what you need and let go of what you don’t. We’re all told how important it is to take constructive criticism well. But what we often forget is that not all criticism is constructive. By taking in a critique and filtering it as constructive or destructive, you can learn what to fold onto and what to let go of. By learning to let go of destructive criticism, your confidence will remain intact and your mind more at peace.
What Companies Can Do
Create an Inclusive Environment
Creating an inclusive environment can be done if you choose to put in the work as a company. It takes more than just simply labeling yourself as an inclusive company and expecting your employees to live up to that on their own. Putting in the work to become an inclusive work environment includes educating leadership and hiring teams on how to let go of conscious and unconscious biases, calling people out when they step over a line, providing a space for employees to speak up and be themselves, and encouraging individuality.
Transparency in the workplace is quickly becoming more of an expectation than a “perk”. At Integrant, transparency is one of our five core values. It’s important that as a company you keep it real and honest with all of your employees and customers. Learn to accept that life won’t always be sunny and that sharing the good and the bad and providing solutions and ideas to problems as they arise will help cultivate a more equal workplace.
Provide the Room to Speak
An environment can not be inclusive or transparent while lacking room for all to speak. The workplace, remote or in person, must be a safe space. Everyone should have the support and encouragement necessary to feel comfortable speaking up about ideas, feelings, and concerns they might be having. In open and communicative environments, equality has a chance to prosper. The best way to make your employees feel safe to speak their minds is by reminding them that their voice is important and essential to your company.
Celebrate Your Employees
Celebrating the diversity and individuality that exists within your company is an excellent way to instill confidence in your employees and others. One way we like to do this is by sharing blogs and posts about the different cultures and people we have working at Integrant. Celebrating our differences helps to diminish biases and uplift who we are and how we feel about ourselves.
Closing the confidence gap by instilling more confidence in women and girls in STEM is not an easy task. As a software development company, we get that. What matters is that we identify the problems and start making changes. Defining how you as an individual or how your company can help to fill in the gaps is a crucial step towards a brighter future in STEM for all. Sharing your ideas for filling in the gap and educating others on the existence of the gap can go a long way in cultivating progression. If you’re interested in learning more about how we run an inclusive and equal workplace, check out some of our related blogs down below!