Women in Procurement: Uncertain of your chances? Go for it anyway
Do you “play it safe” or hesitate when looking for your next career move? Many women in procurement do when they don’t feel 100% qualified for a job, and risk being left behind while others move ahead.
A recent LinkedIn Gender Insights Report found women apply for 20% fewer jobs than men despite similar job-search behaviours. This is often due to women feeling like they wouldn’t meet 100% of the qualifications and would not be hired.
The report also found men will apply for a job or promotion when they meet only 60% of the qualifications. You read that right; men only need to feel they meet 60% of the listed qualifications to confidently apply for a job or promotion, while women feel they must meet 100%.
A 2018 survey conducted by Ypulse and The Confidence Code for Girls reveals a fear of failure instilled within pre-teen and teenage girls. It also examines the confidence gap between boys and girls, which remains through adolescence.
- More than half of teen girls feel pressure to be perfect
- Three out of four teen girls worry about failing
- Between ages 12 and 13, the percentage of girls who say they’re not allowed to fail increases by 150%
- At age 14, girls’ confidence is at its lowest point – and is 27% lower than boys’ confidence
These results confirm that the confidence gap begins early, and likely contributes to even the most prominent women second-guessing their talent and lacking the confidence needed for self-promotion.
A 2020 NBER study on the gender gap in self-promotion supports these findings, and notes the “underlying gender gap proves persistent and arises as early as the sixth grade.” It also found that “women subjectively describe their ability and performance to potential employers less favourably than equally performing men,” underscoring that once the gap opens at a young age, it is difficult to close.
So how do procurement leaders fix this and combat many years of a wide gender-confidence gap within the workforce?
The starting point must be unburdening women of the pressure to be 100% certain of their chances, or to be perfectly positioned for success, before taking their best shot at that next career move. Confidence isn’t reserved for one gender; women can – and should – confidently take risks, too.
Here are some steps you can take when you’re not feeling 100% confident in your next career move.
1. Challenge your inner critic
This may be the most important step in combating the confidence gap between men and women. With a gap that women have internalised early in their lives and has widened over time, the first place to start is with yourself. Reflect on your experiences, beliefs, and values. Then challenge your own persistent negative thinking and self-talk, and remind yourself of your talents, successes, and value.
2. Remove the pressure to be perfect
Nobody is perfect, so why do women continue holding ourselves to this standard in the workplace? Perfection is not expected, but putting your best foot forward is – and that is pretty darn close.
3. Fail forward
After being fired from her first TV job as an anchor, Oprah Winfrey didn’t let that stop her – she became a billionaire American television personality and philanthropist. She shared key advice during a 2013 Harvard commencement speech: “There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.” Take the chance, because failure happens anyway; and it happens to the best of us. And when it does, you are one step closer to success than if you hadn’t taken that chance at all.
4. Find your people
There are others like you in the business world – find them, build your network, and share your stories. Joining programs such as BRAVO, our leadership program for women in procurement, is a great way to find your people.
It is difficult to combat issues alone and being part of a community with shared experiences fosters candid discussions and provides the support and solutions to take your career to new heights.
The gender-confidence gap has been so pervasive in the workforce, yet so rarely acknowledged. But there is always an opportunity for redress and closure. It can be uncomfortable acknowledging these inconvenient truths and intimidating to take the first steps to a more equitable business environment. But for women everywhere, it must be done. We’ve waited long enough, let’s not wait any longer.
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