Angela Priestley

Confidence, the new black among women

Does a rise in self-nominations at female-focused business awards signal that women are becoming more confident about putting themselves forward?

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It’s often said that women lack the confidence to put themselves forward for recognition in business and for better pay but I’d argue that the wheels of change are turning and that idea is moving on with it.

As one of the judges and presenters at this year’s Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards, I’ve been lucky enough to find out that 2016 has seen more women than in past years answer a call to self-nominate for a chance to win one of eight highly recognized business awards.

Does this mean women have become more confident? I put that question to Angela Priestley, the owner and publisher of Women’s Agenda.

“I can tell you women do and will put themselves forward if you give them the opportunity,” she told Financy ahead of today’s awards.

“We had over 400 nominations and many of those people responded to our request that they nominate themselves. So we know that there are plenty of women who feel confident in their ability in business,” says Ms Priestley.

Over 300 people will attend the event in Sydney, which seeks to recognize emerging female leaders more so than the most well known women in Australian business.

Studies such as this one conducted by the University of Texas and University of Melbourne called Personality Processes and Individual Differences have shown that men tend to have higher self esteem than women, and when it comes to taking risk, they are more willing to do so.

The study also found that as kids, we each start out with the same level of confidence, but by the time we become teenagers, girls take a step back and lose their confidence to boys.

This apparent lack of confidence persists until old age, according to the study, which was carried out over eight years and published last year.

Studies have also said that a lack of confidence is a common reason why more men than women put themselves forward for pay rises.

Often a woman’s tendency to shy away from risk taking has been put down to maternal instincts and genetic tendencies to be more cautious, particularly as investors – where in fact this can be advantageous.

But I would argue that this lack of confidence could be starting to wane and another study will soon be needed.

Social media – where women are the biggest users, together with the publicizing of more women doing great stuff, from graduating at record levels from universities, challenging career stereotypes, starting their own businesses at record pace and embracing the conference circuit are all reasons why confidence is on the rise.

In the case of the Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards, just being short-listed becomes something to boast about on social media, and a “must-add” item to the cv.

Social media has also seen the rise of women’s groups, which invite members to write about their own success, and in turn they get a pat on the back for it.

The rise of increasingly high profile women’s awards has also helped to boost confidence and the need to get involved.

Awards worth noting include Telstra’s Women in Business and the Australian Financial Review and Westpac’s 100 Women of Influence awards.

Get amongst it!

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