Confidence in women


As girls get older their confidence starts to dwindle

Women have made a lot of progress. They have earned the right to vote, and their college graduation rates have gone up 30% from 1950 to 2000. Additionally, they make up almost 47% of the U.S. workforce (1). But for every giant leap that has been made in women’s rights, one thing has always held them back: confidence.

According to Dr. Marcia Reynolds, organizational psychologist who specializes in achievement in the workplace, “Women often have a smaller range of acceptable behaviors at work than men. If they are too nice, they are seen as weak or manipulative. If they are too aggressive, they are judged as acting like men or typical bitches.

This trend in the workplace often holds women back from being assertive in seeking a promotion or professional success. According to a study in the Harvard Business Review, when Hermina Ibarra and Morten Hansen, studied the leadership of the 2,000 of the world’s top performing companies; they found only 29 (1.5%) of those CEOs were women, women comprise 57% of all college students but only 26% of full professors and only 14% of University presidents and despite being nearly 50% of law school graduates, women make up only 18% of law partners and only 25% of judges.

These trends are not specific to the humanities either. Ana Maria Munoz Boudet, a senior social scientist in the World Bank’s Poverty Global Practice, says, “Women earn only about 35 percent of the undergraduate degrees in STEM, a number that has remained unchanged for the past decade, even though they account for almost 60 percent of college graduates. And that statistic hides differences across STEM fields, with women earning about 40 percent of the degrees in mathematics, but only 18 percent of those in computer sciences or engineering.

These disturbing statistics seem to be based on false stereotypes and hostile environments that starts in the beginning of a young woman’s education. A study from the University of Washington analyzed more than 1,200 papers about women’s underrepresentation in STEM, and from those identified 3 major factors to why women’s participation in STEM is so low: a lack of pre-college experience, gender gaps in belief about one’s abilities and a masculine culture that discourages women from participating.

Sapna Cheryan, associate professor and lead author of the study at the University of Washington reports, “Students are basing their educational decisions in large part on their perceptions of a field, and not having early experience with what a field is really like makes it more likely that they will rely on their stereotypes about that field and who is good at it.

In other words, when we don’t give young girls opportunities they use false premises and self-doubt to shy away from potential careers and accomplishments. By not providing an inclusive environment early on, women lack the confidence to pursue potential careers and professional opportunities.



1. Mark DeWolf on March 1, 2017. “12 Stats About Working Women.” 12 Stats

About Working Women | U.S. Department of Labor Blog, 1 Mar. 2017, Accessed 24 Sept. 2017.

2. College grads by gender, University of Maryland, 26 Oct. 2005, Accessed 24 Sept. 2017.

3. Reynolds, Marcia. “The Fine Art of Female Assertiveness.” Psychology Today, Sussex

Publishers, 7 Nov. 2010, Accessed 24 Sept. 2017.

4. Williams, Ray. “Has gender equity taken a step backwards?” Psychology Today, Sussex

Publishers, 6 Mar. 2011,

step-backwards. Accessed 24 Sept. 2017.

5. Bach, Deborah. “Why do some STEM fields have fewer women than others? UW study

may have the answer.” UW News, 12 Oct. 2016,

men-than-others-uw-study-may-have-the-answer/. Accessed 24 Sept. 2017.

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