Is a lack of self-confidence what holds some women back? Journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman pose the question in an intriguing article in The Atlantic titled, “The Confidence Gap.”

“To our surprise, as we talked with women, dozens of them, all accomplished and credentialed, we kept bumping up against a dark spot that we couldn’t quite identify, a force clearly holding them back,” they write. “Why did the successful investment banker mention to us that she didn’t really deserve the big promotion she’d just got? What did it mean when the engineer who’d been a pioneer in her industry for decades told us offhandedly that she wasn’t sure she was really the best choice to run her firm’s new big project?”

That darkness at the center of so many accomplished women is self-doubt, they conclude. “Even as our understanding of confidence expanded, however, we found that our original suspicion was dead-on: there is a particular crisis for women—a vast confidence gap that separates the sexes. Compared with men, women don’t consider themselves as ready for promotions, they predict they’ll do worse on tests, and they generally underestimate their abilities. This disparity stems from factors ranging from upbringing to biology.”

The good news they deliver is their belief that confidence can be gained and self-doubt can be reversed. How? “Women need to stop thinking so much and just act,” Kay and Shipman write. As Richard Petty, a psychology professor at The Ohio State University tells them, “Confidence is the stuff that turns thoughts into actions.” And actions, in turn, bolster confidence.

Read the complete article by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman here. It’s an interesting, thoughtful take on a question many have posed but few have answered. Turn your thoughts into action by sharing your reactions to their article on Step up.

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