By SARAH-JANE COLLINS
The other day I was on the phone to a friend. She was trying to decide whether to put herself out there and go after something she wanted. But she wasn’t confident about it because she wasn’t convinced she deserved the thing she wanted.
She was so unsure about her deservedness that over the course of the few weeks we’d talked about it, she’d evolved from wanting it absolutely, to not being sure she wanted it at all.
I wasn’t quite sure what to say. She was fully equipped to take on the responsibility, and she’d be bloody good at it. So I gave her the pep talk.
“Just do it. You’re only not doing it because you’re afraid people will think you don’t deserve it, or you’re not good enough, or something else stupid like that.”
There was silence at the other end.
“Put on your Lady Man Pants* and suck it up.”
“You know if you were a man, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. Because you’d have already gone for it, and no one would have thought you were out of line, because you’re not. You’re perfectly within the bounds of reality.”
I guess I had this response because the conversation had come not long after one with a male friend who was also putting himself out there. His attitude was pretty much the opposite.
He was so confident that things he wanted would come to him, just because he was smart and good and experienced. Which is nice to see, but not something I ever really see in my female friends.
There’s research that backs this up, it’s not just my adorable mates being self depreciating and boastful in turn. Why is there a gender pay gap?
There are lots of reasons, but a key one is that women don’t ask for raises as often as men.They don’t ask for as much money when they start a new job, and when they estimate their worth they continually estimate it as less than a man with the same qualifications and experience would.
Women don’t back themselves. I have had so many of those conversations like the one above, and I have tried time and time again to convince my female friends to do the things they want to do, but are afraid they’re not good enough to do.
I often find myself in the shower giving myself a similar talking to. “You can do this, you are good enough for this. Stop doubting yourself.” It never sinks in. (I don’t know what it is about the shower, I just know it is basically the best place to contemplate the serious issues.)