Confidence and #WomenOnTop

broken glass


For those of you who follow my Twitter account at @SigmaLeader, you will frequently see posts related to successful women (recently I have started tagging them with #womenontop). Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, activist, Malala Yousafzai, and most recently (10 minutes ago) IMF head Christine Lagarde are just a few of the many women doing some pretty phenomenal things.

The good news is that stories of successful women in leadership positions are not difficult to find. The bad news is that it is a even a story of interest that Facebook’s COO and the head of the IMF is a woman.  And, why is it still a big deal?

According to

  • Just 14.6 percent of Fortune 500 Executive Officer positions are held by women.
  • Board seats held by women at the same companies are only slightly better at 16.9 percent.
  • In 2012, Canadian women comprised 35.4% of all management positions and 22.9% of all senior management positions.
  • In 2012, American Women comprised 51.5% of management, professional and related positions.

In short, while the glass ceiling may be on the rise, it does seem to have stopped right before the executive floor.

Authors of The Confidence Code argue that one reason for this is “that women remain less confident than men, and it holds them back.”  Further,

A review of personnel records found that women working at HP applied for a promotion only when they believed they met 100 percent of the qualifications listed for the job. Men were happy to apply when they thought they could meet 60 percent of the job requirements. At HP, and in study after study, the data confirm what we instinctively know. Underqualified and underprepared men don’t think twice about leaning in. Overqualified and overprepared, too many women still hold back. Women feel confident only when they are perfect. Or practically perfect.

No doubt that this is just one reason for the numbers above.  But, it is a very powerful reason.

I wish #womenontop stories were so commonplace that they stopped being interesting from a gender perspective.  However, regardless of your gender, you “can’t be what you can’t see” and it is important to continue to highlight successful women so that our daughters grow up confident that they can accomplish anything.

So, share your stories of #womanontop and let’s smash that glass ceiling.

Until next time… 


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