Last month, as I watched my Facebook news-feed filled with reminders that it was women’s history month, I thought how timely it was that I had picked up The Confidence Code for my spring/summer reading. The book, written by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, journalists and authors of Womenomics, describes how even the most successful women are considered one step behind men, mainly because of their lack of internal confidence. This obviously hits home for many who are career oriented, partly successful, and think of themselves as no less than men. Naturally, my first thought was to deny the statement altogether, because I never thought I lacked confidence to speak my mind. But as I continued to read the book, I realized how true that statement was.
Yes, working women today are educated and more qualified than ever before. Yet still, men predominate high positions in society and family. Yes, women have come far from the old days, but let’s be honest, we still have mileage to go. Why is this still true? It is probably because we are going through a cultural shift of sorts in today’s society, in our homes, and at our workplace…….where women are slowly taking charge….but we are not at the finish line just yet. Thankfully, this is vastly different than just a generation ago and will be different than what the next generation may experience.
Every woman in my immediate circle is confident and successful, but I do see that our society doesn’t consider us equal to our men yet. I believe it is because what has remained during this cultural shift is what the book was trying to point me to. That there is still a lack of eternal confidence among ourselves. True, outwardly we are powerful, strong, and shoulder to shoulder with men and can bring the same things on the table that men do. We walk through a room and we can own it…….because we know we can make a difference. But, when we sit down with friends, coworkers, and family and begin a conversation, or when we sit in a corporate meeting with executives and leaders………a tiny voice inside of us tries to pull us back. Be it a conversation about corporate marketing strategy, or be it a mere conversation about home or family, we feel that we need to filter things and either say them in a “right manner”, or not say it at all. We may bring equal or more salary home, or have a same position as the next man on that corporate table, but we think that if we voice our disagreement on something, we will be seen as harsh, or critical, or rude. In a same situation, a man would more likely be considered as being constructive, or witty even. See, men don’t prejudge themselves, and instead say things as a “matter of fact”………..whereas women ponder how others may perceive their every sentence.
Why do we as women second guess ourselves? Why do we want to please everyone and be the BEST all the time but yet, time again we feel we are nowhere close to being good enough? What is it inside of us that make us feel vulnerable? Why do we listen to that tiny voice that says “you must continue to fit in in the world of men”?
Like any woman I know, I have asked these questions to myself multiple times and found varying answers. At times, I feel it’s the society that always puts men high up on pedestals and tells women “don’t you say or do things that way as a woman”. May be because we were taught that is not how a lady would behave. And, may be it is wired in the genes of women to overthink and over analyze everything. Whatever the answer may be, Kay and Shipman do have a point. That, we modern age women, still hold ourselves accountable to the standards that were set forth by a patriarchal society hundreds of years ago.
I don’t intend to offer answers to the above questions here, as I am no expert in the field. But in my personal experience what I’ve realized is that, at times we don’t help our own kind. We judge the woman who speaks her mind more critically than the woman who always says the “right thing the right way”. True that the overall society needs to continue empowering women, but women themselves need to support and lift each other up.
Celebrating women isn’t about making strong women-centric claims on social media platform for one day. It is about continuously uplifting women around us, being happy for them, celebrating their success, empowering them, supporting them, and standing next to them……………….not against them. Here is to all of those who celebrate women and women empowerment even after Facebook stops reminding us. May we be them!
Until I wander again……