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The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance--What Women Should Know

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Das Buch, das jede Frau gelesen haben muss!

Den Schlüssel zum Erfolg liefert nicht allein die Kompetenz – wer in der Arbeitswelt und im Privatleben bestehen will, für den ist Selbstvertrauen unabdingbar. Gerade Frauen kämpfen jedoch häufig mit Selbstzweifeln. Woran liegt das? Und lässt sich Selbstbewusstsein aneignen oder bestimmen unsere Gene darüber, wie selbstsicher wir sind? In ihrem sensationellen Bestseller, der in Deutschland längst als Geheimtipp gehandelt wird, zeigen die renommierten Journalistinnen Claire Shipman und Katty Kay anhand verblüffender Forschungsergebnisse, wie jede Frau ihr Selbstgefühl stärken kann. Gemeinsam mit führenden Neurowissenschaftlern und Psychologen weltweit haben sie innovative Ansätze entwickelt, wie wir selbstsicherer werden können, indem wir etwa Risiken eingehen und aktiv handeln. Und wie wir unsere Denkstrukturen langfristig verändern. In Gesprächen mit einflussreichen Frauen aus Politik, Sport und Kunst kommen Kay und Shipman dem Geheimnis auf die Spur, wie Frau ihre Ziele erreichen und ein selbstbestimmtes Leben führen kann.


First published April 15, 2014

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About the author

Katty Kay

27 books99 followers
Katherine "Katty" Kay (born c. 1964) is an English journalist. She is the lead anchor of BBC World News America and was previously the BBC News Washington correspondent from 2002. Until 2009 she also blogged at the website True/Slant and is a Board Member at the IWMF (International Women's Media Foundation).

Kay grew up in various Middle East countries, where her father was posted as a British diplomat. She studied modern languages at the University of Oxford and, as a result, speaks fluent French and Italian. After graduation, she briefly worked for the Bank of England. Deciding a career in economics was not for her, she left to work for an aid agency in Zimbabwe.

A short time later, friend Matt Frei came out with a tape recorder and persuaded her to become a journalist. Kay joined the BBC in 1990 as Zimbabwe correspondent for the African section of the BBC World Service. She then returned to London to work for BBC World Service radio, before being posted to Tokyo for BBC News television in 1992 and then Washington, D.C., in 1996. Soon afterwards, she joined The Times news bureau, but returned to the BBC as a freelance journalist in 2002, based in the United States.

From June 2004, Kay co-presented the BBC World news bulletins with Mike Embley in London, shown on 230 public broadcast-television stations throughout the US and on BBC America. From 1 October 2007, Kay became correspondent to presenter Matt Frei of BBC World's one-hour Washington-based news broadcast, BBC World News America, it airs on the BBC News Channel, BBC America, and BBC World. Kay also makes frequent appearances as a guest panelist on The Chris Matthews Show and Meet the Press on NBC, and in the past also appeared on Larry King Live on CNN. She occasionally substitutes for Diane Rehm on The Diane Rehm Show on NPR.

On 2 June 2009, Harper Collins published Womenomics, a book written by Kay and ABC News' Good Morning America senior national correspondent Claire Shipman exploring the redefinition of success for working women based on recent trends of the value of women to the business world.

On April 15, 2014, HarperBusiness published [sold by HarperCollins Publishers] The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know, a book written by Kay and Claire Shipman.

Kay is married to ex-BBC reporter and current Control Risks Group senior vice-president Tom Carver. They have four children. She is non-religious and considers herself to be an agnostic.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,240 reviews
Profile Image for Lauren.
1,447 reviews67 followers
March 12, 2015
Let me begin with this: there is some interesting, thought-provoking stuff in The Confidence Code. Unfortunately, that interesting, thought-provoking stuff could have been put into a magazine article. Too much fluff fills this book, mostly because Ms. Kay and Ms. Shipman don’t delve deep enough into their subject and sometimes confuse adorable personal anecdotes with meaningful research and analysis.

Here are a few of the issues not covered by this book: ageism, dealing with a sexist, hostile work environment, appearance, discrimination against working mothers (beyond just “oh, it’s so difficult”), discrimination against unmarried women and lesbians. All of these issues affect women’s confidence, yet, at most, they’re skimmed over or referenced in passing. Really? I don’t think I’m unique or possessed of any special knowledge, yet I know women who have talked about all of the above issues in regards to their professional lives.

Let’s take just one as an example: ageism. This goes both ways. I’ve talked to women who felt like they were never taken seriously because they looked young, to the point where one woman left a job because she was repeatedly passed over for big assignments simply because she’s short and looks like a high school student and how could the company expect clients to take her seriously?

On the flip side, women from all levels of the corporate ladder routinely talk of becoming invisible as they hit their forties and fifties. Just when most of them are at the pinnacle of their experience and knowledge, they’re often dismissed, either figuratively or literally. It’s sobering, how many women have stories of becoming non-entities simply because of their age, while men of a similar age are lauded for their accomplishments and treated as wise sages. Yet if women try and continue to look youthful, they’re lambasted for that as well. It sometimes seems like a no-win situation, but there’s not a peep from Ms. Kay and Ms. Shipman about this issue.

Likewise, some of their advice smacks, quite frankly, of obtuse elitism. They talk of how women don’t speak up enough at work, which is a shame, because, when they do, they’re rewarded. I don’t disagree that women can be unnecessarily timid – in my limited managing experience, if I may generalize, I noticed that men were more likely to ask for a raise or promotion, expect it more quickly, and be less accepting if they’re passed over for a promotion.

But it’s not as simple as: if a woman speaks up, she will be rewarded and nothing bad will happen. For some women, yes, that’s true, but it’s not that easy. Elsewhere in the book, Ms. Kay and Ms. Shipman touch on the fact that women are sometimes punished for being assertive, yet the authors never connect between this and the ugly truth that, sometimes, women will be punished for speaking up, even for something as simple as a cost-of-living raise (a sadly true story from an acquaintance).

Part of what’s difficult about workplace confidence is that it seems like a lot of women have to constantly read the room to figure out how to act and what to say. It’s an unending balancing act. Yes, men have to do that as well, but not to the same level as women. It’s a headtrip, having to routinely adjust and readjust how assertive to be, how to phrase things, how “feminine” to be or not be.

The more I read of The Confidence Code, the less I bought into Ms. Kay and Ms. Shipman’s limited view of the world. They’re journalists: it’s their job to see the lay of the land and get out there and talk to people. Yet I kept thinking of subject after subject that they brushed over, particularly when they either told amusing-but-pointless stories about their own children or interviewed successful women and omitted key parts of those women’s resumes.

Kirsten Gillibrand, for example, is cited as an example since she says she was once uncomfortable with public speaking and overcame her fear in order to secure a senate seat. That’s a nice story, but it omits the fact that she came from a family that has long been involved in New York politics and that her first job out of law school was at an incredibly prestigious law firm. Add to that, she’s also one of the younger members of the senate and represents one of the most populous states. Maybe she did have some reservations, but she had ample confidence elsewhere in her life combined with ample connections to get that coveted spot.

Likewise, Elaine Chao is the book’s rags-to-riches immigrant story. Which is partially true, although her father founded a shipping company when Ms. Chao was a child that is now a multi-million dollar company and enabled her parents, a few years ago, to donate 40 million dollars to Harvard Business School, Ms. Chao’s alma mater. To say nothing of the fact that, since 1993, she’s been married to Senator Mitch McConnell – something that, depending on the source, may have helped her in getting a cabinet position in the Bush Administration. This isn’t to undermine Ms. Chao’s accomplishments or to say that her family didn’t struggle during the early part of her childhood. Rather, it’s to point out that, once again, Ms. Kay and Ms. Shipman exclude important details that show how these women’s successes are not simply about confidence.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that these advantages never occurred to either author, given that Ms. Kay is the daughter of a British diplomat and attended Oxford, while Ms. Shipman attended Columbia and is married to a former White House press secretary.

The Confidence Code does touch on some important issues. By failing to connect with the deeper issues that influence women's confidence in the workplace, the books ends up closer to empty platitudes than a meaningful examination of the subject. Rather than talk only to an exclusive and small circle of wildly successful women who have had numerous advantages, perhaps the authors should have used their background in journalism to go out and talk to a wide variety of women to more fully understand the issue of women’s confidence in the workplace and better appreciate the balancing act that many women face day after day. Not recommended.
Profile Image for Jessica.
15 reviews11 followers
April 26, 2015
I think this book could have been distilled into an essay and it would have been much more effective. Throughout reading it I felt hopeless, depressed, or angry.
Let me give you a breakdown:
Ch 1-5: Studies and stats on how women undermine themselves and how stereotypes alter how we are perceived (by men AND women).
Ch 6: Actually pretty good. Maybe just read this chapter?
Ch 7-8: Meandering advice. There are a few tips in here that might be useful but many are just opinions and might not actually help.

The moral: don't read this book looking to find an answer or "code" to improve your confidence. Also, don't read this book if you are a woman in STEM. There is a large section devoted to teaching girls that, "yes, you too can be good at math." I just didn't identify with the notion that women think there are things they can't do. Maybe I have more confidence than I thought and that's why this book didn't resonate with me?
Profile Image for Kyle.
289 reviews34 followers
April 28, 2014
I worry about my daughter. I worry about Disney Princesses and Magazine covers sending the wrong message. I worry about how I sit in 30 person meetings at work with 28 men and 2 women. I worry about the earnings gap between men and women in the same position. I worry about pink legos and barbie dolls. I worry that I won't be able to do enough to help my daughter become a strong successful confident woman.

So even though this book is targeted at women, I picked it up hoping I could learn something that could improve my parenting. This book was very eye-opening with research demonstrating that the main difference between men and women in the workplace isn't competence, it's confidence. While the majority of the book is focused on this research, the authors do spend some time discussing ways to help young women improve their confidence:

1.Praise Progress, Not Perfection - Stay away from generalities like "You are the best daughter in the world". Instead go with, "You did a great job on that math assignment"

2.Basic Challenges - It's important to challenge your child. Once my daughter gets a bit older she's going to start helping me with the handyman around the house stuff.

3. Don't over criticize bad behavior or overpraise good behavior.... it can train children to be docile and quiet, which won't do them favors later when they are hesitant to speak up in meetings.

4. Ditch the all pink room and sign her up for sports.
Profile Image for Meg .
102 reviews27 followers
May 19, 2014
I read the teaser article about this book in The Atlantic and was intrigued enough to read the actual book. I'm not a self-help or trendy non-fiction reader, so this book was quite the departure for me. However, the thesis presented in the article in the The Atlantic really resonated with me.

As an adult whose returned to college, I often find myself appalled at the lack of confidence and agency in the young women I take classes with. Often, in many settings from school to work I find myself as the only outspoken woman in a group, and even then, I know how much confidence I lack in comparison to my male colleagues.

I interned at a literary journal and while 70 to 80 percent of the classes, workshops and conferences for creative writing I attend are populated by women, strangely those numbers flip when it comes to who is submitting work to magazines and journals. It's strange that while the majority of writing students are female, an overwhelming majority of those who submit stories are male. It's something I've always found puzzling and concerning. But after reading this book it seems to me that a business, like writing, that involves monumental amounts of rejection, is something women in our society have not been trained to accept.

One of the main ideas in the book is that women are not given the same opportunities as men to fail and fail often enough to become well-practiced in failure, and thus when encountering failure in the real world for the first time as adults, we shrink back and learn we can't fail if we don't try. Which becomes learned helplessness. Women learn to only go for sure-bets and keep reinforcing their lack of confidence by avoiding failure. The book posits that failure, and lots of it, is a necessary building block of confidence.

I wish a lot attitudes and ideas in this book were not true. It was disheartening to realize how much we as women tend to work against ourselves and our success in order to be considered "good girls." There are three things I will take away from this book and internalize for life. Fail harder, stop ruminating, and own my success - I will never again credit luck for what I have achieved.

There are no great epiphany "ah-ha!" moments here, but rather confirmation backed up by scientific studies on why we, as women, lag behind once we leave the sheltered world of school to the business environment. But the book is quick to note, as well, that it's not as easy as Leaning In, because self-assertive women at work are labeled as aggressive bitches. And for this, the book has no solutions, save some very wide platitudes about blending male and female qualities to succeed in the workplace. And that is a very nuanced process that would probably take up another book.

Great read if you have a daughter, work with girls, or if you're doing everything right, but not getting ahead at work and can't figure out why.
Profile Image for Sharon.
340 reviews504 followers
July 7, 2015
For about a month this past summer, it seemed like every woman I knew was reading and raving about The Confidence Code. I was hesitant to read it, mostly because I felt I already knew the story of why (speaking in giant, broad strokes) women tend to be less confident than men. Kay and Shipman do a responsible job of unpacking these reasons, looking partially at genetic hardwiring but also taking into account (Western) cultural practices that deeply embed specific gender norms into the workforce in particular. A man is arrogant and self-aggrandizing? Give him a raise! A woman acts the same way? What a bitch! Kay and Shipman don't handwave away this bind that women often find themselves in; they acknowledge just how depressing these double standards are and how the net impact is that women often overprepare in work and underappreciate their own expertise and contributions.

Kay and Shipman's takeaways come down to a couple of surprisingly simple findings. One, that confidence is built when women act. Don't wait until you're perfectly prepared, don't wait for someone else to give you permission, don't wait until you feel like you're an expert. Go ahead and ask your question, talk about your accomplishments, ask for a raise, make your suggestion, submit that paper. Sometimes these things won't work out for you, but you'll find that even "failure" is not as terrible as you thought it would be. The other finding was that true confidence includes embracing who you really are. The key isn't for women to try to mimic behavior that is unnatural to them, but to embrace their own personalities and figure out how to contribute from their own strengths. I found Kay and Shipman's tone throughout the book to be encouraging, not in a fakey rah-rah girl power way, but in a way that actually spurred me to want to take action on several things in my own life that I'd been feeling paralyzed on.

A couple of knocks I have on the book -- it can at times treat confidence like a magic bullet (this woman was confident, hence she rose to the top of her field!), while disregarding the roles that luck and privilege can play in success stories. There was also at times an over-reliance on certain studies without accounting for the limitations of that study's subjects. For example, they cite one study regarding confidence which found "confidence without competence had no negative effects," but the study subjects were 242 students at a highly ranked United States university -- hardly a representative sample of the US population as a whole, much less of other cultures. Readers should be aware that the kinds of women this book is addressing is a fairly narrow swathe -- high-achieving, well-educated, skilled Americans.
Profile Image for L.
554 reviews36 followers
March 10, 2015
I guess if you haven't read the following books, this book may be of interest to you.

Lean In
Nice girls don't get the corner office

Why is "confidence" just needed for women? What about men who lack confidence? I feel like this is actually creating unnecessary gender divide and further generalize women. And, in very similar sentiments to Lean In, this is about super intelligent, highly accomplished women who just seem insecure. Unreasonably insecure. So the message becomes more or less, toughen up and be more like men but not too much so. Fair advice but seems to be targeted to a niche of established, somewhat well-off women. Advocate for grit? I don't think so.

Why does the book spend SO much time explaining WHY women lack confidence? Does that boost confidence, is that why people picked up this book? I kid you not, only 1 chapter offered any advice to improve confidence and just sounds like it stole from Mindset. What a waste of 150/200 pages.

Unoriginal and disappointing.
Profile Image for Britany.
967 reviews417 followers
February 20, 2019
I enjoyed this quick book about confidence in women.

Katty Kay bring us many studies and research as she pulls together this novel. Starting with basketball and ending with biased math tests, all the ways in which women have always had less confidence and therefore always set themselves at a lower bar than their male counterparts. In most cases, men assume confidence while women second guess themselves.

I'm leaving this one knowing that I need to demand more, and demonstrate more confidence based on my experience and knowledge. It should translate to more respect in the workplace and more of what I want in my life without bowing out because I don't have 100% of the skills needed for something.

I did feel like so many parts of this book have been used in other speakers' presentations and the content has been shared before. It's nice to track it back to this book.
Profile Image for Katherine.
119 reviews5 followers
October 26, 2014
Essentializing and very heteronormative but I appreciate reading about this topic as it is something I struggle with. The most important things I learned are: when in doubt, take action and be willing to fail. It is inaction and overthinking that deplete confidence. Work towards mastery by being willing to try and to learn even if you may never perfect the skill or be the best at it. And be yourself. Authenticity is confident. And lastly no "up talking" - say things like you mean them.
Profile Image for jen8998.
705 reviews5 followers
May 15, 2014
Interesting topic but is covered rather superficially. Wish the book had more depth to it.
Profile Image for Lynne Spreen.
Author 13 books183 followers
May 17, 2014
Review of Confidence Code

The Confidence Code by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay is a wonderful book. It's funny (Katty Kay learning to kiteboard), relatable (stellar international leaders Christine Lagarde and Angela Merkel comforting each other when male politicians beat up on them), and easy to read. Well researched, the book contains pages of helpful information, not only to understand why we as a gender tend to lag in confidence but also what to do about it. (Although the book would be good resource for any adult who lacks confidence, it's aimed at women.)

Apart from making you feel good, why is confidence important? According to the authors, ..."there is evidence that confidence is more important than ability when it comes to getting ahead," on the job and in life generally. Good compensation, happiness, and professional fulfillment may depend on confidence. Not born confident? Don't worry. "The newest research shows that we can literally change our brains (to make us) more confidence prone."

There's a lot of wisdom in the Confidence Code. One nugget is this: "Most people believe they need to criticize themselves in order to find motivation to reach their goals. In fact, when you constantly criticize yourself, you become depressed, and depression is not a motivational mindset." Also, "...Of all the warped things that women do to themselves to undermine their confidence, we found the pursuit of perfection to be the most crippling...you'll inevitably and routinely feel inadequate."

But most of us are perfectionists. How do we overcome these behaviors?

To get answers, Shipman and Kay interview and cite many thoughtful and engaging experts, who are quoted throughout the book, but the short course is this: Stop overthinking everything. Have courage, take action, congratulate yourself for trying regardless of outcome, and move on. Engage in self-compassion. Practice / do the work. Mastery in one thing spills over into other areas. Meditation can shrink your amygdalae (the region of the brain that amps up fear) and stimulate your prefrontal cortex (the calm, rational area). If that's too much work, concentrate on how you present yourself physically. Practice power positions. Spread out. Take up space. Keep your chin raised. Don't use "upspeak" (i.e. sound like a Valley Girl when you talk).

There's so much more, but here's the thing I want you to remember: the development of confidence is volitional - a choice. Or as Shipman and Kay put it: "Our biggest and perhaps most encouraging discovery has been that confidence is something we can, to a significant extent, control." What an important life skill for women of all ages to learn, and to teach their daughters and granddaughters.

Profile Image for Meagan.
1,317 reviews46 followers
October 6, 2015
This was my "Self Improvement" selection for the Read Harder challenge.

It's really more of a 3.5, but I think the topic is really important and the information is valuable, so I'm rounding up.


Just over a week later and I'm back.

I decided to read this book because I think I have something of a confidence problem. Not surprising, since research shows that most women do. Which is really screwed up! They did a study that showed that just asking women to note their gender before taking a math test reduced their performance on the test. Don't make them consider their gender, they do just as well as men. Remind them that they're women, they do much more poorly. This is a problem. And it's what motivated the authors to write this book.

They explore all the different potential contributors to confidence (or a confidence problem): biological contributors, upbringing, cultural influences, experience. It turns out (don't be too shocked) that confidence is complicated. There are biological things going on in people (men and women) that can affect confidence. When they are growing up, girls' often natural inclination to build relationships with others and be helpful to their mothers gets rewarded (because who doesn't reward a girl who's quiet and helpful?), but it turns out that rewarding little girls for being quiet and not causing problems may prevent them from trying new things, mastering them, and building confidence. And no one who's wandered down the toy aisle recently will be shocked to learn that there's something cultural going on. Girls get caregiving toys marketed to them. Boys get adventure toys or scientific toys. Girls get the quiet experience. Boys get to experiment, build new skills, and grow confident. Because it turns out that the number one thing we can all do to become more confident is to try new things. To become comfortable with failure. To become persistent. To master new skills and gain the understanding that we are capable of doing it again.

I went into this book believing I had a confidence problem. I still think that I kind of do. I don't have that gut feeling that I'm good at things. I get nervous about failure. I have the sneaking suspicion that the people around me are better at things than I am. But the surprising thing I walked away with is that I have more confidence than I give myself credit for. I speak in public regularly, and enthusiastically, even though I don't enjoy being the center of attention. I made a career change to follow my passion. I speak up in meetings, and don't let myself be bullied into silence. I have an interest in science, and I believe that I could have had a scientific career if I had put in the effort. I believe that I'm smart. So, sure. I'm not immune to the confidence gap between the genders - but I've learned to give myself credit. I'm doing better than many!

I think this is a thoughtful, research-based argument that every woman, and every parent, should consider reading. Turns out, when it comes to confidence, it's truly possible to change the world.
537 reviews
August 17, 2017
I couldn't finish it. People who have so little confidence that they can't write a book about confidence without spending the bulk of the book reporting on "research" they did on the definition of the word confidence for pages and pages (and pretending that their hokey 'research' is 'science') shouldn't be writing a book about confidence. What a waste of time--for the writers as well as the readers.
Profile Image for Gwen.
1,043 reviews33 followers
August 10, 2015
Largely elitist drivel, but with some good points

I thought that Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead had the market cornered on "universal" career advice for women that really only applied to the 1%, but The Confidence Code, amazingly, is even more out of touch with the general lived experience for [American] woman than Sandberg's work. My same criticisms of Lean In apply here: you have to be in a position of power and influence (in a white-collar job, of course--nothing in here applies to the service industry, retail, or manufacturing) to even begin to use these tips. You have to be exceptional, which most people aren't. What about the rest of us? While I appreciate Kay and Shipman's caveat of "we should pause and say that we know when we talk about women en masse we are oversimplifying," because of the authors' worldview, I had a difficult time absorbing their words: very little of their book actually applied to me.

Kay and Shipman explicitly link The Confidence Code to Lean In, but I don't think they answer their own question: "Underqualified and underprepared men don't think twice about leaning in. Overqualified and overprepared, too many women still hold back. And the confidence gap is an additional lens through which to consider why it is women don't lean in." (21)

If you're looking for a more practical book, Megan McArdle's The Up Side of Down, while still problematic, has more real-world examples of failure and confidence growth.

A terrible idea:

- "...confidence should be a formal part of the performance review process because it is such an important aspect of doing business." (19) Kay and Shipman say this in reference to a (presumably elite) law firm. Great--we as a society instill in women from practically birth to *not* be confident, then we should penalize them in the working world for lacking confidence?! We need to reform how we teach girls, not break them down after the fact.

Some good thoughts:

- "Confidence is linked to doing. We were convinced that one of the essential ingredients in confidence is action, that belief that we can succeed at things, or make them happen. Confidence...is not letting your doubts consume you. It is a willingness to go out of your comfort zone and do hard things. We were also sure that confidence must be about hard work. Mastery. About having resilience and not giving up. ... It's easier to keep going if you are optimistic about the outcome." (49)

- "Confidence requires a growth mind-set because believing that skills can be learned leads to doing new things. It encourages risk, and it supports resilience when we fail." (128)

- "Making a distinction between talent and effort is critical. If we believe that somehow we're given talents at birth that we can't control, then we're unlikely to believe we can really improve on areas in which we're weak. But when success is measured by effort and improvement, then it becomes something we can control, something we can choose to improve on. It encourages mastery." (128)
Profile Image for Jaclyn Day.
736 reviews326 followers
February 9, 2015
This book is what I wanted Lean In to be. It’s relevant, actionable, and packed with research to back up their points. The book is fascinating even if you’re not in the workforce, but if you are--you have to read this. I know I’ve read a million anecdotes over the years about how women tend to lack confidence in the workplace, which affects everything from starting pay to raises to promotions, and this book neatly lays out why that might be and what steps can be taken to help propel us forward in a more self-assured, self-confident way. One anecdote that stuck with me was from a female supervisor who worked with two junior staffers. The male employee stopped by the supervisor’s office often (and did so unannounced). He would throw out campaign ideas, comment on business strategy, share his opinions about things he’d read. Even if the supervisor shot him down, he shrugged it off or replied with a counterargument. The female employee, on the other hand, made advance appointments, came well-prepared with lists of questions and issues, and didn’t provide feedback unless it was solicited. The supervisor, though sometimes annoyed by the assertive male employee, couldn’t help but be impressed by his tenacity and his ability to take negative feedback and channel it into new ideas. This part of the book stopped me in my tracks and made me reevaluate my own professional demeanor. Another part of the book that fascinated me was about perfectionism and how women wear the mantle proudly—but are mostly unaware that it’s actually a hindrance to their own success. “Perfectionism actually inhibits achievement,” the authors write. It leads to “piles of useless, unfinished work, and hours of wasted time, because, in the pursuit of it, we put off difficult tasks waiting to be perfectly ready before we start.” We hold back, letting other colleagues go first, test the waters for us, because we want to be 100% prepared and qualified before taking on the risk ourselves. Put your work out there without obsessive thought, the authors write. Watch things happen. Perfectionism also creates blinders that can diminish an employee’s potential. By being so focused on the day-to-day, an employee can entirely forget to lift their eyes and look at the big picture. But, big picture thinkers are often promoted. I call this the logistics trap. I can find myself getting entirely caught up in logistics and smooth, well-executed tactics without circling back to strategy or pushing the strategy in new, better directions. I’ve seen “logistics employees” passed over. I’ve seen them wonder why. I have to fight not to get stuck in that place too. There’s a sense of accomplishment with being a logistics employee that appeals to my baser desire to be a perfectionist, but sticking my neck out and redefining strategy has always had better returns for me. I have to remind myself of this a lot. Anyway, this book was a gold mine of interesting information and advice and I enjoyed it immensely. It’s one of the most effective and insightful books I’ve read on the topic of women in the workplace and if you haven’t read it yet, please add it to your list. It’s well worth the read.
Profile Image for Amy.
2,578 reviews402 followers
February 13, 2021
I'm going to tuck this one under: "It is not you, it is me." If I hadn't just read How Women Decide: What’s True, What’s Not, and What Strategies Spark the Best Choices, this would have been all new and probably (possibly?) pretty empowering. But instead it just felt like a watered down How Women Decide.
I was initially excited when this book looked like it was going to take a step away from how we "socialize" our daughters and instead focus on the biological aspects of confidence. And then when it circled back to socialization after all, I thought maybe we'd get more insight about how the two things work together. But none of it was delved into sufficiently. Everything felt very surface level once past the initial explanations.
Now, there was one point I really loved and nearly bumped up the book a star for. When discussing the STEM imbalance between the genders, the authors mention that studies show typically teenage girls do better in language arts and teenage boys in spatial, mathematical things. But that, once they hit their twenties, the differences become negligible. There is a line about how "if they just waited for their hormones to settle, girls would find math made more sense and boys would find they understand Shakespeare."
As someone who only started to "get" math at age 17, this thought blew my mind. I flirted with physics (indeed, I took Advanced Physics my senior year as a 'fun' elective) but assumed since I struggled with math, I would always struggle with math. If someone had sat me down and said, "You're just maturing. Give it time."? It would have changed my entire outlook.
And I also believe it would have changed my brother's outlook. He opted for the trades because he thought spatially but now in his mid-twenties has changed careers to do more language arts type work.
I found that line and its implications fascinating.
But that was about it. Most of this was review (including the studies referenced) with lots of side-commentary about the authors.
I'm sure they are fantastic women. But their vulnerability felt occasionally like over-sharing as they wrestled through their own genes/experiences/self-realizations than the actual studies. The book became about them and because of that, became less about women who don't share their particular struggles and features.
So, it was okay. Not bad, but nothing to write home about.
Profile Image for Negar Shahmoradi.
9 reviews14 followers
May 1, 2019
تمرکز این کتاب بیشتر روی اعتماد به نفس در انجام کار هست. اعتماد به نفس جنبه های متفاوت دیگری هم داره مثل اعتماد به نفس در روابط که توی این کتاب بهشون پرداخته نشده. نویسندگان ابتدا با تعریف کردن اعتماد به نفس شروع میکنن، و بعد به این میپردازن که اعتماد به نفس چطوری شکل میگیره. عوامل ژنتیکی، تربیت خانوادگی در کودکی و شرایط‌ محیطی بررسی شده و به این امر که آیا میشه این عوامل خارج از کنترل رو تغییر داد یا نه هم پرداخته شده. در یک جمله از همین کتاب، میشه خلاصه توصیه نویسندگان رو برای افزایش اعتماد به نفس بیان کرد:
کمتر فکر کنید، بیشتر عمل کنید، اصالت داشته باشید.

راهکار هایی که ارائه میدن مناسبه، ولی خیلی از عوامل شدیدا تاثیر گذار در اعتماد به نفس نادیده گرفته شده. مثلا گره هایی در روح و روان فرد که نیاز به روانکاوی سنگین برای حل شدن داره. مخاطب کتاب هم بیشتر بانوان هستن.
در کل مطالعه این کتاب برای کسب اطلاعات کلی و یکسری راهکارهای مفید، مناسبه، اما اصلا کافی نیست.
Profile Image for Huda AlAbri.
188 reviews182 followers
April 2, 2020
تفترض مؤلفتي هذا الكتاب أن هناك فجوة في مستوى الثقة بين الإناث والذكور، حيث تعاني النساء من انخفاض الثقة بأنفسهن، وينهشهن التفكير الزائد حيال جودة ما يفعلنه، يبحثن عن القبول، ولا يتصالحن بسهولة مع مواقف الفشل، بينما الرجال في الجانب الآخر ذو طمانينة بال، وثقة عالية، وقدرة كبيرة على تجاوز لحظات الفشل. هكذا صورة نمطية بائدة بُني عليها هذا الكتاب، وعزفت على وتر النسوية وخطاب المظلومية، وفي النصف الثاني منه تحول الكتاب إلى ما يشبه كتب التنمية الذاتية لا علاقة له بالجندرية،خلطة سحرية للصعود إلى قوائم ال Best seller.

قرأتُ الكتاب بدافع اهتمامي بدراسات المرأة، وفي مقدمته ذُكر أن هناك فجوة في مستوى الثقة بين النساء والرجال . أثار ذلك فضولي خصوصاً أن ميدان البحث هو المجتمع الأمريكي في وقتنا الحاضر. ولكن لا شيء مما ذُكر يبرهن على أن هناك أزمة ثقة منخفضة لدى النساء، وإن وُجدت فلم تستطع مؤلفتي هذا الكتاب إقناعي بوجودها

أرى أن النساء لم يكنَّ يومًا أكثر ثقة مما هُنَّ عليه في الوقت الحاضر. أصبحت المرأة منافسة لا يُستهان بها في شتى الميادين، ونجاح امرأة في صعيد ما يشكل إلهامًا وقوة دافعة لباقي النساء. وليس أدل على قوة المرأة وتنامي ثقتها بنفسها من تصاعد أصوات النساء حول العالم مطالبات بحقوقهن وداعيات للمساواة  مع الرجل!.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
179 reviews18 followers
July 23, 2017
I really thought this book was great. I was fascinated to learn that (among many other things) there are actually neurological differences between men and women, which make women more likely to ruminate and doubt themselves. In many cases, this leads to inaction in women, whereas men are hardwired to just keep plugging along whether they succeed or fail. Somehow just knowing that feels empowering. It allows me to recognize in myself when I doubt/ruminate, shut it down, and get on with it. Less thinking. More doing.
Great book!
Profile Image for Parnil Singh.
45 reviews4 followers
September 23, 2020
I loved this book. As someone who often struggles with speaking up in large settings and often being doubtful, it was great to see that this is something which affects so many women, and can be solved through will and work. The authors have made the book quite readable, with interesting instances of successful women. One of the good motivational/ self-help books I have read.
Profile Image for Hasti Sharifi.
64 reviews1 follower
February 22, 2022
تاحالا کتابها و پادکستهای زیادی رو در رابطه با اعتماد به نفس خونده و شنیده بودم و متاسفانه هیچکدوم اون جوابی رو میخاستم بهم ندادند،یا صرفا روی تعریف اعتماد به نفس مانور میدادند یا جملات شعاری و راهکارای زرد ارائه میدادند اما این کتاب فوق العاده بود.
کاملن علمی به موضوع اعتماد به نفس پرداخته،دررابطه با تحقیقاتی که در این رابطه رو افراد موفق و برجسته و همینطور روی میمونا انجام شده صحبت کرده،درفصل های بعدی کتاب به راهکارهای علمی پرداخته و همینطور تربیت فرزند مبتنی بر اعتماد به نفس و...
خوشحالم که از طریق فیدیبو با این کتاب عالی آشنا شدم💚
Profile Image for JC.
178 reviews13 followers
October 19, 2021
This is by far, the most irritating book I have read this year. I was simmering with frustration for much of it and by the 80 percent mark I considered DNF-ing it because I was seething by that point. I did not give this one star, because it's my personal belief that one goal of a useful and decent book is it makes you think. And I had many thoughts in reaction to the ideas contained in this.

Let's start with the main issue, these authors do not seem to totally understand how to present social science studies in context and draw meaningful conclusions. They take MANY of the studies and even anecdotes at face value with very little interpretive skill. There are some good point in this book; even some interesting pieces of social science. But they cannot tell you how to apply it. Take for example the many allusions to genetic testing, even when they are given the evidence early on that genetic testing is only a piece, they continue to harp on its importance to susceptibility. This would have been a lovely time to provide CONTEXT by showing us a anecdote of how nurture affects these genes in humans. Instead, they spill ink on how nervous they are about their results. This leads me to the related second most annoying thing about this book.

These authors continually center themselves in the narrative as if their experiences are why we are reading the book. I have no doubt these two women are talented in their fields, but I do not know them and have little interest in if they themselves or their children are worriers/warriors/enjoy soccer/etc. Spending so much time on their experience is downright infuriating when you consider how little they dive into the lives of their sources. I was a bit excited to see female basketball players as a potential example because I like a good female sport moment (see my love for Anna Kessel's Eat Sweat Play). But, they do a surface level interview with two players and then talk about how inspired their daughter was while watching them. (Also, I take a little issue with the weird interpretation they have at the start that female sports players are more confident? Why? Because they're in a male dominated profession? wEird.)

And with talk of them as parents, we come to what is, on a personal level, the thing that made me want to stab this book as catharsis. And that is, it's absolute buckwild, fucking egomaniacal, boomer-centered take on "millennials". I would like to point out I am the youngest possible millennial. I am 26. I own a home. I'm not a child. SO, once you've read this, I bet you can imagine how angry I was. I am also, greatly confused by these really dramatic feelings older generations have about trophies; do they have some sort of trophy trauma? Like, I was in soccer for many years as a child, and I do indeed have participation ribbons. I still knew when I got them that I was NOT GOOD at soccer. I still wanted to quit and my parents (which Kay and Shipman seem to think were doting) still made my ass play. Did I learn something from this experience? Yeah, I don't fucking like running in a field very much. I am mainly just curious what these author think parents were like toward my generation? Because, this whole rah-rah, high self-esteem thing was just not my experience. It feels like a gross oversimplification at best, and stroking their own parental choices in book form at worst. Also, do baby-boomers think millennials can't do laundry or make phone calls? Or that we need to still shine shoes? That chapter was very confusing.

Next point, they use Michelle Rhee as an example of a confident woman. That's all. That immediately disqualifies this book from being good even without all my other points, tbh. I don't need to know Michelle Rhee is a girlboss who doesn't care what other people think. I knew that when she pulled off the single most racist school "reform" plan in the country, which basically involved a concerted effort to take public schooling away from low-income communities and lower the wage of public school teachers. Well guess what, now there's a teacher shortage which disproportionately affects student of color but I guess we didn't see that coming... Get wrecked, oh my god I hate this woman. Sorry, Michelle Rhee rant over now.

Back to this book, overall, I found this to be a very trite take on women in the workplace. It had far fewer strategies and much more bad faith social science than I was expecting. Skip this one, read Lean In instead. It will still tell you to act like a man and never challenge the idea that women's genetics and behavior has implicit value. But at least it will be more cohesive.

Profile Image for Cannon.
55 reviews
January 12, 2021
I wanted to like this book, given the number of people who have recommended it to me, not to mention the fact that I share a last name with one of the authors.

And this book was an easy read, well-researched in terms of the information presented, with a few really helpful parts for women in the workplace especially. It did help me reflect on how I approach group settings and consider which parts of interactions (hello, perfectionism before I speak up in group settings!) might be more gendered than I give them credit for.

That being said, I felt like this book was going through a personality crisis, where it couldn't decide whether it wanted to be a self-help book for women or a sociological commentary on workplace and leadership expectations or a scientific exploration into the root of confidence. It seemed to have an initial focus on pragmatism -- what women can do to ensure we aren't tripping ourselves up by a lack of confidence. This in some ways made sense to me, given the realities of many workplaces today, but felt incomplete without an acknowledgement during the initial chapters of the very real dynamics that lead to women to have decreased confidence. Yes, many women don't feel comfortable speaking up, but when they do speak up, are they being listened to?

Also. The authors started out by acknowledging that because of the length and, as a result, depth of the book, they would be grouping "women" into a broad category throughout. However, a significant portion of the book went into the nature vs. nurture debate of confidence, integrated with genetics testing information and memoir-like sections about the authors' "confidence genes", which just felt... irrelevant? Psychology is pretty much in agreement about the duality of nature and nurture across our personality segments at this point, but, even if it were 90% personality, that doesn't seem like particularly helpful to the way this book positions itself, because what would we do about it? The heritable aspect of confidence is a short, useful fact, but I would have appreciated the authors spending that time instead breaking down how confidence might look differently across demographic groups, exploring how to re-examine what confidence should like in corporate America, or even leaning more into how women can use the research in this book in more concrete ways.
Profile Image for Westminster Library.
735 reviews54 followers
August 29, 2016
“Confidence is the way we meet our circumstances, whether they are wondrous and wonderful or really hard and difficult.” p. 25. This is a must read for any woman in today’s workforce, whether in a leadership role or not. Even if your workforce is home and you are raising children, it has important and beneficial information for parenting and supporting your daughters too. Intriguing from both a workplace environment and the scientific explorations of our brain, this book has given me a new outlook on why I may do the things I do and how to overcome some areas that need improvement. It has a contagious way of wanting to put things into action as well as teaching self-compassion and breaking the perfectionism streak.

This book reminds me of: Lean in : women, work, and the will to lead by Sheryl Sandberg
Find Lean in: women, work, and the will to lead at the Westminster Public Library!

Find The Confidence Code at the Westminster Public Library!
Profile Image for Sepideh R.
30 reviews25 followers
September 2, 2017
It was amazing and at the same time pretty sad to read how our beliefs and culture affects how we deal with our confidence. Becoming aware of those random and common sentences we heard from our family and friends because of the fact of being a girl diminish our roles in the world day by day was kind of painful for me. At the same time, it's a privilege to acknowledge that we can still change that for ourselves, our friends, and maybe our future daughters.
As the author mentioned in the title as well it's a book that every woman should read and act on it.
Before this book, confidence was a characteristic which I hoped to improve, now I know it can be found in our genes, habits, and the stories we tell our selves as well.
"You don't get to "choose confidence" and then stop thinking about it as your life miraculously changes around you. It's certainly not as simple as clicking a box to add self-confidence to your list of attributes. When we say confidence is a choice we mean it's a choice we can make to act, or to do, or to decide."
Profile Image for Cathy.
487 reviews1 follower
September 11, 2018
This book was fascinating. There is so much to think about and try! There is so much insight to what makes women in general so hesitant and men so driven yet unphased by setbacks or failure. This book needs to be read for our daughters and for the girls in our schools. It is important information that could help turn the trend of women standing aside to a trend where women stand up and move ahead. A must-read for women of all ages.
Profile Image for Nohelia.
106 reviews1 follower
February 4, 2017
I found this very helpful. I'll definitely work on speaking up more/being more confident in general
Profile Image for Eaweishaupl.
179 reviews
March 28, 2023
This is an excellent and thought provoking book. Is confidence nurture or nature? What does true confidence look like in successful women? Why do men seem to be confident even when they fail and women seem to avoid failure to succeed? The authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, two highly successful journalists, reveal their hidden anxieties about their own confidence and how that affects their life. In trying to understand why they feel inadequate and under confident in some situations they speak to neuroscientists, geneticists, psychologists, bio-neurological researchers and a variety of highly successful women, who one would expect to be confident in their abilities. Just like us, each of these women, from Christine Lagard who runs the World Bank to Crystal Longhorn a WNBA star, have moments of self doubt but have insights as to what real confidence is. As the authors pose the question:

We see it everywhere. Bright women with ideas to contribute who don’t raise hands in meetings. Passionate women who would make excellent leaders but don’t feel comfortable asking for votes or raising campaign money. Conscientious mothers who would rather someone else be president of the PTA while they work behind the scenes…w Our complicated relationship with confidence is more pronounced … but it can spill over into our home lives.

Why? What causes this phenomenon that we all see and experience. This inquiry is facinating. I think any woman reading this book can find some part of themselves reflected back. The book is well researched and well written. I’m thinking of buying copies and handing them out to every woman I know. A very interesting and good read.
Profile Image for Hilary "Fox".
2,024 reviews56 followers
August 17, 2021
I really wanted to like this book more than I did.

It wasn't a bad book, not exactly. My trouble with it was that the content in it seemed better suited for an article rather than a full length book. Every time they served up a bit of fascinating information, it never seemed to be fully explained or elaborated on to my liking. I would love to read deeper into the research that they only mentioned in passing to better gain an understanding of precisely what they advocated within the book itself.

All of that having been said, there were a number of interesting things to take away from the book itself. Women's brains work differently from men's in a variety of ways, and from my limited vantage point it seems that this isn't something that has really been talked about or addressed enough. Beyond that, there is a genetic component to confidence and whether or not one is more prone to emotional overthinking/anxiety or simply brash charging ahead. Luckily, one isn't doomed forever towards being limited due to genetics. Upbringing, and simple practice, can alter a lot courtesy of neuroplasticity.

My biggest take away from the book was that the biggest way to gain confidence is essentially to attain mastery of something. So, you do it. In spite of your nerves you do it and you keep doing it... and that's all there really is. Other things come into play, sure, but the basic tenets of it all remain true. Be well prepared, and fail fast. Just keep working.
Profile Image for Chanequa Walker-Barnes.
Author 6 books132 followers
August 16, 2019
I read (or rather listened to) this book after it was recommended by a dean at a gathering for women aspiring to academic leadership. As a psychologist, some of the concepts here were not new for me. But the authors aren’t trying to present new ideas. Rather, what they do is to synthesize psychological research, epigenetics, and case studies on confidence (and other related concepts such as self-efficacy, optimism, stereotype threat, etc.) to explain the gender gap in perceived confidence.

Their research is thorough and gets heady at times, but their use of personal stories and case studies helps demystify it. They offer practical strategies for women and for parents of girls about how we can raise our confidence even in the midst of a society that bombards us with self-doubt.

There is one chapter toward the end where they overrely on personal anecdotes of women in senior leadership positions in corporate America in ways that are overly simplistic and that contradict some of the research-based statements that they make at the beginning of the book. Overall, though, I’m glad I read it and I’m already more attentive to the ways I sabotage my own confidence. I think this is a must read for women aspiring to leadership. In fact, I suspect that I’ll come back to it repeatedly.
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