Stop Assuming That Women Have Low Self Confidence

Stop Assuming That Women Have Low Self Confidence

Today I would like to talk about self confidence. Only I’m not here to inspire you. Nope. I’m here to complain. Specifically, I’m here to complain about something I’ve heard too often for a long time.


“As women, I think we hold ourselves back.”


“Us women have low self confidence because we don’t go for the big opportunities. We hold ourselves back.”


And many, many, many variants on those two statements.


PSA: Just stop it!! Stop assuming that women have low self confidence!


Stop Assuming That Women Have Low Self Confidence


I heard it on a podcast recently and it was the last straw. It wasn’t even related to the topic of that podcast, it was just slipped in as something to talk about. I took to Twitter & vented a little.




and I love this reply I received:



Why is there this assumption that if a woman make a choice that someone else doesn’t agree with, that it’s because we’re holding ourselves back?


Decision making and motivation, two key elements to success in any specific endeavour, are comprised of many more factors than only self confidence.


What makes me sad is that I can’t ever recall any men saying this to me. It seems, at least in my experience, to be said only by women, to women.


Maybe it’s true for you, I don’t know. Maybe you recognise it’s a barrier for you and to that I say kudos for knowing that about yourself & working on it. Heck, kudos for knowing it, even if you’re not working on it. Sometimes knowing things about ourselves is the biggest obstacle.


Personally, I don’t think it’s true for me. I do find it offensive when it’s said to me. I find myself incredibly sick of hearing it all the time.


We all have a lot of things we do in our lives and these things all sit on a spectrum of enjoyment, competence, confidence and relevance.


What really concerned me about this was earlier this year when even a psychologist spouted this to me. I was told that, like all women, I was holding myself back if I didn’t apply for a job. Well, excuse me, but these are the reasons I replied with “I don’t know” when you asked if I was applying for it:

  1. I knew it had been advertised but I hadn’t read the full ad and position description yet.
  2. I knew the pay rate and hadn’t done a budget to see how I would fare financially on that salary.
  3. I vaguely knew the duties and responsibilities and thought it may bore me.
  4. It was quite a few steps backwards for me (but with the advantage being permanency of the position).


In fairness, this was in a social and not a clinical setting, but it still concerned me that such a huge assumption like that came out of their mouth.


At what point do these seemingly innocent comments become a self perpetuating myth? At what point does “awareness” (by people with no actual qualifications in a relevant area) start to imply to people that they should feel a lack of confidence in activities? A dialogue on topics is useful. Asking a friend (for example) why they didn’t want to apply for a job has some merit. Forcing your opinion on them that if they had just been more self confident they could have gone for it achieves nothing.


Where do you stand on this? Are you sick of hearing about low self confidence in women? And the assumption that it applies to everyone and is the reason for decisions?



10 Replies to “Stop Assuming That Women Have Low Self Confidence”

  1. I must be hanging in different circles because I’m not really hearing this at all. Actually come to think about it, I’ve pretty much been in hibernation mode looking after my daughter. When I have ventured out it is usually for women in business networking event.

    1. When I see too much of one thing, I do wonder who or what I am following that is influencing me. But this time I haven’t been able to find a source.

  2. Oh don’t get me started!!!!!!! Flip it around and if we DON’T ‘hold ourselves back’ we get called pushy, bitchy, condescending…whatever! I worked in a male-dominated industry for years and whenever I didn’t hold back, whenever I made a point, put my foot down, tried to manage…I was seen as bitchy yet if I were a man, they’d shut their mouths and do their job. We can’t win. We have a long way to go.

    1. You can’t win sometimes. I’m ex mining/construction so I know what you mean about male dominated industries. I found it really pathetic when I had to yell at a manager to shut up and let me finish once so he would actually engage in the conversation we were having. After that he always listened more but honestly, it’s ridiculous that it gets to that point!

  3. Yep. If I don’t apply for a job it’s because I don’t want the job. End of story.

  4. Yeah for women who make their own decision about what they like, don’t like, do and do not want to do.

  5. I don’t know. I am not sure I hear this a lot, though I probably let it fly over my head. I do like working on my own self confidence though, not that I think it is low, I just like doing it.

  6. I’m not sure. Some people need to work on their confidence and some don’t. Some of those people are women and others aren’t. The problem with being endlessly told that you don’t have the confidence is that it makes it true

  7. I’m sure there are women who do hold themselves back…. but there are just as many men that do the same too. But you’re right- you don’t hear of men ‘holding themselves back’ in the same context. I work in female dominated fields so I don’t hear it much, but no doubt it’s there.

  8. I’ll be honest I don’t often hear this. Yet, I will say I am not the most confident woman on the planet. I try but self-doubt loves to take over. In any case, you can’t genealise it to a gender…it’s a personal thing.

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