Book Review: The Confidence Code

BY LAUREN CHAMBERS                                      ONLINE CONTRIBUTOR

Inspiring and insightful, The Confidence Code is a powerful narrative that goes to the roots of where confidence stems from and suggests strategies to build your own.

In The Confidence Code, journalists Katty Kat and Claire Shipman set out to discover what true confidence is, and why there’s an increasing gap between men’s and women’s. What they find along the way is nothing quite like what they expected. From learning that it has roots in our DNA, to early childhood years, to how it affects our workplace performance, Katty and Claire discover some truly interesting data-backed research along their journey to discover where confidence lies.

The premise for the book was conceived after Katty and Claire (who both work in the male-dominated field of political reporting) decided to seek out why they felt less confident at work than their male counterparts. In order to do this, they began will interviewing high-ranking women, psychologists, and distinguished professors from across the United States.

Many of the results they found were startling. Women lack the self-assertiveness, risk-taking behaviour, and self-confidence necessary to excel in the workforce. Women hold themselves back in fear of looking too pushy, or aggressive. These qualities can be attributed back to the fear of being disliked by others, and a high tendency to “over-think” and dwell on past mistakes.

Further research shows that compared to men, women don’t consider themselves as ready for promotions, they predict they’ll do worse on tests, and generally underestimate their own abilities. These results are devastating for women in the workforce, where characteristics of leadership are often seen as the opposite of these behaviours.

One of the most interesting excerpts in the book speaks to how our confidence develops from elementary school. At this young age, females tend to be more developed than males and are rewarded for their ability to be socially adept, quiet in class, and neat. Males on the other hand run wild, speak out in class, and play rough at recess. As a result, males from a young age hone their ability to take risks, brush off failure, and accept criticism. All of these traits which psychologists believe to be qualities that are essential to building confidence from a young age.

One of the definitions of confidence Katty and Claire found comes from a psychology professor at Ohio State University. He says, “confidence is the stuff that turns actions into thoughts.” One of the key takeaways from this book is that when women put in effort, they are just as good if not better than men are when it comes to intellectual ability and leadership capability. The problem is that women are too risk-averse to even try.

They go on to say this, “every piece of research we’ve studied, leads to the same conclusion: nothing builds confidence like taking action, especially when the action involves risk and failure.” They encourage all women to when in doubt, take action. Leaving your comfort zone is the only way to keep continuously improving and moving forwards in life. Confidence requires hard work and hard choices. Women need to worry less about people pleasing and perfection, and take more action.

For more on this subject, see this article published by the authors:

*Main image by Louisiana Mei Gelpi for Man Repeller.