Why women underestimate their abilities

Why women underestimate their abilities


Have you noticed that many women underestimate their abilities and fail to shine a light on their performance? 

Perhaps, at times, you have thought you needed to know more, learn more or have more experience to be taken seriously, seek promotion or allow your true value to be seen.

If you are … you are absolutely not alone.

Over and over again studies have found that men overestimate their abilities and performance, and women underestimate both…. while their performance is of equal quality.

A study by HP found that women only applied for a promotion when they believed they met 100% of the qualifications listed for the job. Men were happy to apply when they thought they could meet 60% of the job requirements.

Ladies, if we want to have more of an impact at the leadership table, it is time for us to shift our thinking.

You do not need to learn more. You do not need to be more experienced. You do not need to wait for permission or to be tapped on the shoulder. And, most importantly, you do not need to wait until you feel more comfortable and confident in your abilities.

What you really need is to get out there and get the experience by doing the do. 

You need to apply for that next promotion… even when your experience does not meet 100% of the criteria. You need to step up and tackle that high profile project that will get the attention of those that matter.

Next time you catch yourself thinking you need that next level of expertise before taking a step … STOP IT. You already have enough, know enough and are enough to take action from exactly where you are right now.

We women will never break through the glass ceiling or truly settle into our place at the leadership table in the numbers that will really make a difference while we allow ourselves to think we need everything to be perfect before we make the next move.

It is time to break the long held patterns of thinking and to create some new rules to live and work by. No more waiting, perfecting and pondering.   It is about taking action, surrounding yourself with great people and learning as you go.

Yes, I know that sounds scary and unfamiliar…

Here are 3 Keys to breaking though the fear of the unfamiliar

1.  Don’t do it alone. Surround yourself with a network of other advancing people who will lift you up, challenge you and support your growth. This may mean finding some new people to hang with.

One way to find some new people is to join a women’s network or mentoring group or association where you can share and support one another’s growth and see how other women are putting together the pieces of the personal and professional puzzle.

2.  Use purpose to get past self doubt. For many women, a bigger office, larger pay check and a more prestigious title is not enough to propel them forward. It is more about finding personal fulfilment, meaning or creating their dream lifestyle for their family.

What is it for you? Tapping into what it is that gives you a sense of purpose is critical to get you through those moments where the uncertainty, fear and doubt pops up.

3.  Be your best friend… rather than your harshest critic. You are capable of so much more than you may think. Your inner critic may not share this view but if you continue to listen to and believe everything your inner critic is telling you nothing will change.

It is time to be brave and take action in spite of your fear and uncertainty. It is only through putting yourself out there that your courage will grow.

Ask yourself

  • In what areas of your work have you underestimated your skills and abilities?
  • What has it cost you? (eg: missed opportunities, promotion, being paid what you are worth.)
  • Where are you currently holding yourself back by believing you need to know more, have more experience, be better than you are today?


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