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Ladies With An Attitude

By Kerryn Gamble

“Self confidence is a skill and like any skill can be learned”

Self-confidence is recognised as a desirable leadership trait and a hot commodity. Despite this, there’s a confidence gap particularly for women, spanning industries, income levels and age groups.

Psychiatrist Julian Short, author of An Intelligent Life defines confidence as knowing you can do something and self confidence as knowing you’ll be fine if you cant. If we waited to feel confident before we take action, we might not do much, especially if it’s something we’ve not done before. Confidence does not precede action, action precedes confidence.

Confidence (our belief in our ability to do something) is situational and may show up where you least expect it, eroding achievement and leadership. It wasn't until the late 1980‘s and early 1990‘s that women were portrayed on mainstream TV in leadership roles in shows such as Who’s The Boss, The Cosby Show and Murphy Brown during prime-time viewing.

Women have evened out education inequality, with women now being awarded more undergraduate and post graduate degrees than men.

In small business, ABS data shows there are now more women than men in the 35 - 45 age bracket running businesses. Women setting up businesses are the fastest growing sector in the Australian economy and women owned businesses have less external debt and are more profitable earlier than those owned by men.

We've seen organisations with greater diversity, consistently outperform those without. Ironically, in male dominated environments, women speak 75% less compared to when they’re in a predominantly female environment.  

Why do we need to build our confidence capital:

  • To promote ourselves and our businesses, so people know about the wonderful contribution we make
  • To stand proud and speak to audiences about what we do
  • To be included in organisational decision making
  • Be taken seriously in meetings
  • Be part of the consideration set for promotions
  • Feel confident to have-a-go and take risks
  • Lead our teams 
  • Inspire the next generation
  • Even out the gender pay gap

Women still earn on average 77% compared to male peers for the same job, which means, Australian women would need to work for an additional 15 years to retire at the same money as male peers!

Our perfectionistic tendencies and over-thinking are contributing to hesitation and lack of action. This is costing us professionally and in our personal lives too. Self confidence is something we experience as a feeling, it’s a powerful emotion and it’s also the feeling we’re subconsciously seeking when we’re waiting for something to “feel right”.

 According to authors Kay and Shipman in their book The Confidence Code, the voluntary contribution to our confidence is as high as 50%, which means we have just as much influence over our self confidence as genetic factors. Our opinions and insights are not being shared or heard, so we’re less likely to receive recognition for our efforts and when we do we’re likely to brush them off or not accept them gracefully.

Building self confidence begins with a decision, develops with action and evolves through ongoing challenge. 

If you enjoyed this, click here for insights and opportunities to build confidence capital.

Kerryn's mission is building confidence capital in professional women, to address the leadership gender imbalance. Kerryn works with ambitious women to rewire their self-confidence for success on their terms. Kerryn speaks on self-leadership, overcoming self doubt, people pleasing and procrastination.Find out more at  Check out the Speak with Confidence Checklist to banish surprising speech habits that are undermining your confidence. Email via

Kerryn is Vice President of Professional Speakers Australia (VIC, SA, TAS), Founding Director of CORE Potential, creator of Results Roundtable, members of the Australian Institute of Training & Development and International Coach Guild.