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  • Writer's pictureMyrna Driedger

Confidence Gap Between Men and Women

Published in Lifestyles 55 plus

December 3, 2018

In recent years, researchers have conducted more and more studies on the difference in the confidence levels of men and women. The findings of these studies might shock readers. Every day in our professional and personal lives we are surrounded by men and women that we respect and lean on for advice. Would you think that your female friend is less confident than your male friend? However, on a larger scale the gaps are noticeable. In most industries we don’t see as many female executives as male executives, in my line of work in particular, we don’t see as many women put their name on the ballot as we see with men.

And why is that? Many researchers believe that is because of something called the Confidence Gap. This term refers to the schism between the confidence men exude and the confidence women exude.

Where do those confidence gaps start? There have been studies that show that girls’ confidence can begin to decline as early as the age of 8. By the time girls are in their early teens their confidence levels are significantly below those of their male counterparts. This is a major problem. Young girls learn to doubt themselves and shy away from speaking up in much larger numbers than boys their age.

That needs to stop.

These girls grow up to be women and there are similar statistics about adult men and women. Women are less likely to speak up. Women are less likely to ask for a raise. Women are less likely to apply for a better job. And finally, something that is noticeable to voters at election time, women are less likely to put their name on the ballot.

It has been a passion of mine throughout my political career to promote women. In doing so, I have spent much time reflecting on the history of women earning the right to vote here in Manitoba. The evolution of the enfranchisement of (most) Manitoba women is a fascinating one. Women at the turn of the 20th century fought for their right to vote with such a strong sense of surety. They fought hard and they fought peacefully. The confidence these women had ensured that their point was heard. And was it ever!

Women have come leaps and bounds since Nellie McClung and her colleagues pursued equality and human rights for women. But there is still more work to be done. It is my belief that this work is the responsibility of everyone in our society- men included. We must encourage women and girls that there are places for them ‘at the table’ so to speak.

It is important to me that I do my part to encourage girls and women in my own line of work. I have hosted the Girl Guides organization at the legislature so that girls could take their seats and debate in the house, an initiative that had never happened in the history of the Manitoba Legislature until last year. In the New Year I will be hosting Pathfinders for the same purpose. When you encourage children to speak up and speak their minds it can have lasting effects.

There are more and more efforts every year to encourage girls and women to enter the STEM fields and we see the affects of this in the higher statistics of women in these male dominated industries.

The theory of critical mass refers to the percentage of participation needed for women’s voices to be heard. In many different industries, even that 30% bar is not being met. While there are many factors for this, one would certainly be the confidence gap between men and women.

When I was a girl I was fortunate to have a teacher encourage a sense of confidence in me. I am forever grateful to have had this teacher who has had a profound impact on my life. She fostered in me the understanding of how important it is to speak my mind. These strong foundations ensured that as an adult, I took with me the sense of confidence that I had developed throughout school. Being confident is important in every job and it was in every position I’ve held. Being confident in myself was important while I worked as a nurse, then as the Executive Director of Child Find, then as an MLA, and now as Speaker of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly.

I hope to see a day in the not so distant future when girls and boys, men and women are able to have fewer barriers in the path to reach their goals. Ensuring girls grow into confident women is something that must be addressed at the roots. Fostering confidence in girls is an important piece of the puzzle.


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