Do Women Need Higher Confidence or Do Organizations Need to Change?

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Recently, Dr. Leonora Risse, Lecturer in Economics at RMIT University and Women and Public Policy Program Research Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School, published an article titled “Leaning In: Is Higher Confidence the Key to Women's Career Advancement?” I will highlight a few of her points and some findings presented in her research. In her article, Dr. Risse pushed back on the research that women need to be more confident to progress in their careers. She suggested that job promotions are a more important driver of career progression. Therefore, any differences between a man’s and woman’s ability to receive a job promotion will undoubtedly impact their difference in future earnings, leadership abilities, and societal influence. Historically, an individual’s ability to receive a job promotion falls back on external factors such as industry conditions and necessity. However, it has been noted that the decision whether to hire or promote is also tied to a worker’s personality traits, particularly those reflected in an individual’s willingness to lead, take risks, and compete. And, of course, according to literature, men tend to express agentic traits such as assertiveness while women tend to express communal and expressive traits such as nurturance, which can disadvantage women.

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