When I wrote this post we had just had International Women’s Day and I always find it amusing to read the hand wringing posts on why success is harder for women.
As a woman who was held back here’s my take on where it often goes wrong. I’m generalising but also sharing personal experience and what my clients tell me about their own experiences.
1. Unconscious bias. Women have to work harder to be taken seriously and are often patronised. Assertiveness is perceived as unfeminine. Ambition can be perceived as unfeminine too.
2. Family responsibilities. Women tend to bear the burden of childcare, family and domestic responsibilities. It’s getting better, but it still happens a lot of the time.
3. Upbringing. We condition girls to be nice and put others first. I went to an all-girls school that taught us we were as good as any man and had the right to make our own choices. The message most of us got at home was very different. I certainly grew up confused.
4. Ourselves. We overthink everything, compare ourselves to the wrong people, worry about what others think, develop impostor syndrome and perfectionist tendencies and never want to upset anyone.
What held me back? 1,3 and 4. But mostly 4.
What holds you back?
PS The photo is of me aged around 28. I was in the early days of a career that turned out to be pretty successful but 1-4 all held me back at the time.