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Women and recognising our competence (internally and externally)

(202 Posts)
BuffytheReasonableFeminist Wed 14-Jan-15 10:23:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

YonicSleighdriver Wed 14-Jan-15 10:32:08

Good thread, back after work!

cailindana Wed 14-Jan-15 11:18:24

I used to believe the doubt people had in me was justified. Then I worked with some men. That cured me.

EBearhug Wed 14-Jan-15 11:32:00

(Am currently studying for a techy exam, so am currently believing they're all right.)

EilisLiomoid Wed 14-Jan-15 11:41:33

Thank you for starting this thread Buffy.

As I said in the pub, I do oscillate, like you say, between

- defeatist rage at the consistency of stuff that happens that means I get under-recognised
- crippling self doubt about what is awfully wrong about me that this keeps happening, and confusion and shame about how I must have some awful grandiose over-estimation of my own capabilities (which everyone is probably aware of, and laughing at me)

Right now, for once, I am not in either of these two places but, however briefly, in a place that I am trying very hard to make a constructive one:

- acknowledgement that there are things about me, and about the world that makes this happen, and a temporary suspension of the view of this through a justice / injustice lens; instead through an entirely pragmatic lens of What Can Be Done

(Also relevant: introverts and how they communicate)

TravelinColour Wed 14-Jan-15 11:46:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BreakingDad77 Wed 14-Jan-15 11:50:16

cailindana I think men though massively overestimate ourselves

BuffytheReasonableFeminist Wed 14-Jan-15 11:56:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EilisLiomoid Wed 14-Jan-15 12:04:22

Speaking of abandoning the "justice" angle: I went to school at schools that were explicitly Christian and talked a lot about fairness and kindness. (I am sure secular schools talk about these things too.) One of the things we were always being told in school was that it wasn't fair to favour your friends when making judgements about things. There was also a huge song and dance about blind marking in public exams. Fairness was a real Thing in school.

Now, in business, I find no one talks about fairness and everyone talks about Relationships. What this basically means is that everyone has implicitly bought into the notion that people want to do favours for their friends and that is fine, on whatever basis those friendships are forged. IF you were to mention fairness at all, whether on behalf of yourself or anyone else, it would be thought pointless or whiny.

Would it? OR is there a way that men / extroverts / other people not me have to invoke fairness which would have traction?

Nolim Wed 14-Jan-15 12:08:50

I read about a study (sorry i dont remember the source but it was a retudable source at a reputable university) that women tend to underestimate their own abilities. For instance (i am overgeneralizing here) if both a man and a woman get a 8/10 in a test the woman would say i didnt do bad. The man would say i did great. It is called the impostor syndrome, you feel like an impostor because you think you are the least qualified among all these highly qualified people. But it is not so.

EilisLiomoid Wed 14-Jan-15 12:18:24

forget the fairness point. It isn't relevant to pragmatism

cailindana Wed 14-Jan-15 12:31:51

That's what cured me breaking dad. I realised all these successful men weren't anything special, in fact, as Ellis mentioned they had got to where they were through 'relationships' - essentially the old boys club. They believed in their own merit though, despite crashing incompetence or extreme mediocrity in some instances. They feel they have a right to be there and that is half the battle as far as I can see. So I have cultivated the same attitude. It's working very well so far smile It's still harder for me as men are affronted at least at first by my lack of deference but it so far has worn off. I still have the creeping suspicion that someone will tear me down bug am keeping it at bay for now. My DH admits that he has always overestimated his competence - it has got him very far.

BreakingDad77 Wed 14-Jan-15 12:32:04

I would agree Buffy in a way its a double buff, as you say the initial belief that as a man you are held up to have more competence and then the talking up based on this and mild narcissm.

So no wonder women undervalue themselves and feel undervalued.

BreakingDad77 Wed 14-Jan-15 12:34:56

Indeed cailindana - and women get a double hit as you didn't go the same school, and then all the gender bias.

cailindana Wed 14-Jan-15 12:53:42

Women get fed and believe the 'fairness' bullshit far too much. Fairness does exist in school and to a lesser extent at uni, hence the fact that women are on a par with or outdo men in those arenas. But beyond that it's all about who you know and how you fit in. And I you're a woman you just don't have the insider knowledge needed in so many fields.

LightningOnlyStrikesOnce Wed 14-Jan-15 12:55:40

I liked Eilis' fairness point, though I'm just going to take it and run with my favourite topic... I wonder if it's still taught in schools like that, 'cos I'm inclined to see its loss as a sign of our times. Back 'when I were young' we still had a public domain, and ' fairness' is very necessary to run a public domain. Now that has been more or less destroyed in favour of (all hail the most holy) "business" and the primacy of the private sector. The values of the private sector are the same as the ideal values for men, aggression, assertiveness, lack of ethics, nepotism. IMo anyway. If so - oh look this is a bit relevant after all - women simply aren't socialised to fit into the private sector well from birth.

BreakingDad77 Wed 14-Jan-15 13:26:47

Lightning i would agree wholeheartedly, there are many male "scions" of business that are held up and yet when you look into them it was built on dodgy deals, dubious acquisition contracts, destroying other businesses and the loss of jobs etc that could have survived to make more profit.

I liked a lot of what mary portas was attempting with the high street but battled old beliefs and not all the funding she was promised.

grimbletart Wed 14-Jan-15 13:38:16

This tends to confirm research that shows that men will apply for a job or for promotion if they have a good proportion of the qualities and experience asked for. Women tend to apply only if they think they have 100%.

Also echoes what I said on Buffy's other thread. Decades ago I was a trainee on a newspaper that had a reputation for acting as a feed to Fleet Street (as it then was) and BBC radio and TV. A number of staff successfully made the jump after applying. They were all male. Yet when you looked at how good they were as journalists you realised they were competent but certainly not the best, in many cases less competent than the women, who did not view themselves as good enough to move on.

Caveat: that was decades ago. Perhaps women have changed since I started at work?

Is this some inbuilt or conditioned problem with many women or will it end at some point I wonder?

cailindana Wed 14-Jan-15 13:46:01

It's a conditioned problem grimble, I think.

Part of it is definitely a lack of role models. If you don't see other people you identify with taking the leap then you will lack confidence that you can take the leap. Not "fitting in" also doesn't help - you feel out of place, not "one of the gang," and that inevitably stands in your way.

Hopefully as more women get to top jobs this will start to change but currently so few women are in top jobs that change is happening far too slowly.

What I think will help is a new cultural outlook on parenthood - the idea that leave taken after a baby is born is not entirely preserve of the mother and the idea that it's important to keep both the woman and the man's careers going post-children.

EilisLiomoid Wed 14-Jan-15 13:53:56

Lightning, you are so right about the loss of the "public" but I don't know what has happened wrt this language in schools. (my children go to a c of e school, partly for this exact reason)

(There is a whole tangent on "soft ethics" in preschool media, which are developed to my certain knowledge by actively unethical people in their business lives - evincing some sort of nostalgia? - and how they actually explicitly disappear the older the person being taught. I really want to explore that and have for a while, maybe not here)

Also - lightning - thank you for not calling me Ellis! smile

EilisLiomoid Wed 14-Jan-15 13:55:38

cailin, right, which is why I want to stop wandering off down this "fairness" dead end. Pure pragmatism for me, for now.

On the pub thread LordCopper said "you act, you don't change". Well yes. But I want to think about how you do that. If you are acting, I think we could all help each other with the scripts. And the stage directions and the more bigger picture stuff.

So let's get on this right here and right now.

CyberMam Wed 14-Jan-15 14:01:55

I have struggled for a long time with being able to have confidence in my own abilities. I still do to some extent, but as I've got older I think I've at least learnt to recognise that I undervalue myself, and I've worked quite hard in the last couple of years to push myself out of my comfort zone. I'd always assumed that this was just because it's part of my individual personality, not because I'm a woman. I've recently read several articles about Imposter Syndrome which I did identify with and it makes me begin to wonder whether it is something more common in women.

cailindana Wed 14-Jan-15 14:07:24

Oops I called you Ellis Eilis blush I have no excuse!

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Wed 14-Jan-15 14:08:47

Timely thread. I was on a client call today and felt a bit out of my depth, so immediately downplayed my abilities. I'm also job-hunting (kinda) and have discounted everything I've looked at because I don't have 100% of the requirements.

However when I worked in an organisation (which did not fit any of the 'fair' criteria mentioned above) I was brilliant at both of those things. So either it's just practice or I need to be in that kind of environment, which therefore leads me to conclude that kind of behaviour isn't natural to me...

And you know, I'm not hugely detailed orientated and I'm not actually very good at techie stuff - is that just 'me' or is that gender conditioning?

cailindana Wed 14-Jan-15 14:15:16

Women doubt their abilities because even when they do well, nothing comes of it. But no one says "you didn't get that job/promotion/contract because you're a woman so the woman thinks it's because she's not good enough.

There's nothing puzzling about why women doubt themselves. What women have to recognise is that people will subtly stand in their way, all the time but that's got nothing to do with their ability.

My DH needed a new recruit for his company, he recommended a very highly qualified woman for the role (whom he worked with in the past, so he knows she can do the job) to his partners, they interviewed her, she did very well, that would be the end of the story for a man. But no, the (all male) board expressed doubts - about what? About what the clients will think. Think about what? About the fact that the two top client-facing staff are women. I shit you not. An excellent, available and willing candidate was being doubted because she's a woman, and no bones were made about it. Luckily DH told them to cop the fuck on. And they were ashamed of themselves. But what if he hadn't done that? Said woman would have got a no, not because she's not good enough but simply because she's a woman. But no one would have said that and she would have gone home thinking it was because she wasn't good enough.

I mentioned this in another thread - a colleague of DH's just got a huge promotion but was told she'd have to do the job without an assistant despite all of the male predecessors having at least one assistant. Again, thankfully, she told them to cop the fuck on but if she hadn't she would have had to do a very demanding job singlehandedly when all of her colleagues had help. Inevitably she would fall behind. Result= her thinking she's not good enough. As it stands, simply the fact that they tried to deny her an assistant has dented her confidence, even though they didn't succeed.

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