I'm not entirely sure if this is a feminist issue but I'd like to here what others think. I'm not overtly confident, neither am I the shy retiring type. I have noticed that I don't speak up at meetings whereas the men in the meeting have no qualms about offering their views.
I wondered if defining yourself as a feminist and learning more about women's issues has made you more confident and assertive? Or if you view the two traits as entirely different?
I might also add that I was recently interviewed by an all male senior panel and I honestly felt like I was walking into the lions den. I did wonder if I'd have felt differently had there been a woman on the panel. Not because I'd assume she'd be a soft touch but because it would have demonstrated to me that it is possible for me to reach that level of seniority and quite possibly also find myself on that panel in the future.
Yes, I think feminism helps me as I can look at times I felt unconfident and separate out the reasons, one of which might have been being the only woman in the room(common for my
I have no issues challenging people at the places I volunteer if they are missing something but I don't court a leadership role so I just go with the flow 90% of the time. Don't get me wrong I can and will get very noisy when needed but as I am in places where opinions tend to be very similar a lot of the time it isn't a big issue.
I think my confidence and awareness of women's rights developed at the same time (teens). I'm not sure if the two were connected.
SEB, I am glad you are here! You didn't seem to be around so much (although maybe I just have poor observation skills!).
TeAmo yes definitely for me being a feminist has given me more confidence. My DSs were born in the eighties and feminism helped to define why as a mum I had suddenly seemed to become a non person in societies eyes.It was so exciting being with women who felt like I did when i joined local groups. Feminism gave me a voice especially when I had to stand up for my boys and helped me to articulate why I didnt agree with gender stereotypes and such like. As for job interviews - not been for any lately but I'm certain that not being afraid to express my views in other areas would help me to sell myself. Mind you if its an all male panel....
Being involved with women-only groups, discussions and activism has left me feeling a lot more confident. The feminist stuff I used to do which had more men involved just felt like more of the same - I'm fairly shy and I didn't feel able to pipe up over men who were mansplaining and dominating the conversations.
Not sure about being more confident, but I am much more ready and able to name bullshit for what it is. Spending time with feminist women has taught me an awful lot about myself, it's also been really liberating.
I have become more confident in the situations you describe as I have got older.
I don't know whether this is all to do with age or also to do with being more senior or also to do with having headed towards the "age of invisibility" so colleagues don't first notice "attractive young woman" any more IYSWIM.
I also work for a more "right-on" firm now which while it's a very trad industry and male dominated they are genuinely trying to change where I work.
It's an interesting question.
I do think that being viewed as a sex object the whole time when you are young (you know that thing where teens / young women just have eyes on them wherever they go) is confidence-sapping. Even if you aren't consciously aware of it subconsciously you are. I remember the first time it stopped when I was heavily pg and men stopped "noticing" me and it was utterly liberating. I do wonder if it is hard to be confident when you are young and you have all that on you to contend with IYSWIM.
Also there is a thing I'm sure where in a very male environment the men kind of all talk to each other. So it may not be just down to you, it may be that you are correctly reading subtle cues from your colleagues that are saying it's not your turn to talk IYSWIM.
Yes, I think confidence is a huge feminist issue.
Women are taught to be quiet, to talk less, to second-guess. I know someone who researches how women and men express themselves in social settings, and she finds that women are penalised for not being apologetic and self-effacing enough.
There is a lot of research into the dynamics of meetings, and a good summary of it here: debuk.wordpress.com/2015/05/23/why-women-talk-less/
Personally, I have found that what really builds my confidence, is networks with other women. I teach, so sometimes I spend my time encouraging young adult women to speak up, and advocating for them, and noticing the dynamics that are making them feel unconfident and silenced. And oddly, it makes me feel confident to speak up on their behalf. And then, because I know I can speak up for them, I know I can speak up on other issues, so it becomes a virtuous circle. So yes, I think feminism and confidence are very closely related.
Not being heard is a massive confidence drain. So I don't think feminism gives you confidence as much as it helps to stem the outflow of the confidence you should have had in the first place.
That is an amazing article Jeanne. Thanks for sharing it.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Infact I left out of my OP if perhaps reading about all the struggles faced by women, for the pure and simple reason that they are women could actually work to reduce confidence. E.g. At my interview it dawned on me that while there are working women in the organisation, none of them have reached the elevated status of these men so the whole thing seemed disheartening.
The link you shared Jeanne is something I have seen all to often. Women who are assertive are seen as bullies and on a power trip but men with the same trait are seen as strong and leadership material. It's really is a balancing act I think.
Great article Jeanne. I'm definitely going to store up that idea of "acknowledge other women's contributions."
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