I was seduced by an article on the cover of The Atlantic titled “The Confidence Gap. Evidence shows that women are less self-assured than men—and that to succeed, confidence matters as much as competence. Here’s why, and what to do about it.” I bought the magazine and repented sooner than I hoped to.
Whenever one says that North American women suffer from severe issues with their confidence, somebody immediately objects that there are structural inequalities and we should talk about them instead. As if these problems were not intimately linked and discussing one would suck all the energy away from the other.
The article in The Atlantic, however, doesn’t even begin to address the issue intelligently. First, it offers a bunch of inane evolutionary psych platitudes that go on for pages and that I skipped because my brain refuses to process this much stupidity. Then, the article informs us that the reason why women don’t hold a many responsible positions and positions of power as men doesn’t only reside in naturally flawed female brains:
For some clues about the role that nurture plays in the confidence gap, let’s look to a few formative places: the elementary-school classroom, the playground, and the sports field.
Note the pointed absence of what is the formative place par excellence: the family. There is no discussion at all of family scenarios and upbringing, as if children were delivered by storks straight into the classroom. After the article informs the readers that girls who don’t play sports in school have no chance of becoming confident women, it trots out the tired old piece of idiocy that has been used to sabotage women for ages:
If a woman walks into her boss’s office with unsolicited opinions, speaks up first at meetings, or gives business advice above her pay grade, she risks being disliked or even—let’s be blunt—being labeled a bitch. The more a woman succeeds, the worse the vitriol seems to get. It’s not just her competence that’s called into question; it’s her very character.
As a woman who not only sucked beyond belief in gym class and who is the mouthiest, most obnoxiously opinionated and narcissistic colleague anybody can imagine, I can’t hear this load of sad, tired, caked on BS any longer.
What would be fascinating to discuss in this respect is why confidence comes so easily to the generation of American women who are now in their 50s and 60s but proves so elusive to those in their 40s and younger. There must be a reason for this enormous generational difference, and nobody is analyzing it.
So I’m thinking let’s discuss it here. How are you doing in terms of confidence? Have you noticed the generational difference I’m talking about?
One rule for the discussion: no passive voice is allowed. Even though I just used it.