Despite the Equal Pay Act having been established 45 years ago, women still earn less than men in Britain today – this difference is arguably the clearest and most dramatic example of inequality for women. But this isn’t the only hurdle that women face – stereotyping, unequal opportunities and the perception that they need to be primary child carers are but a few walls blocking the journey to the top.And despite Scandinavian countries being at the forefront of gender equality, it’s a situation women across the globe are being faced with. The conundrum of why we have too few women leaders is a subject that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is most passionate about – having given numerous talks on the subject. But it’s her 2010 TED talk that unveiled three messages that needed to be taken on board if you wanted “to stay in the workforce”. The first message was to sit at the table. At the time, Sandbery told a story of how Facebook hosted a senior government official who was meeting senior execs from around Silicon Valley. “He had two women who were traveling with him and I had to ask them to sit at the table with us – they sat on the side of the room. Here’s another story: when I was in college I took a course called European Intellectual History and I took it with my roommate, Carrie, as well as with my brother. The three of us took this class together. My roommate and I studied hard and attended most of the lectures while my brother read one book of 12. “He then marched himself up to our room a couple days before the exam to get himself tutored. The three of us took the exam together. Afterwards, when we asked each other how it went, there were things Carrie and I thought we could have done far better, while my brother ended up getting the top grade in class despite not having known anything a few days prior.” The problem with these stories is that they show what the data shows: women systematically underestimate their own abilities. Women do not negotiate for themselves in the workforce. In fact, a study suggested that out of the people entering the workforce out of college, 57 per cent of men are negotiating their first salary, and only seven per cent of women. And most importantly, men attribute their success to themselves, while women attribute it to other external factors.
Read more on business confidence:
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- Charlie Mullins: Why entrepreneurs need to exude confidence to breed confidence
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