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Book Summary & Description
Best book Ive read in decades; excellent research and science plus authors own experiences woven in. More than half of this book is dedicated to describing research that shows that males are more confident than females. After reading one example after another, I was left feeling that there was not much hope for females when it came to learning confidence. Only chapters 6-8 cover how females can raise their confidence level (or, in the case of chapter 7, how you can raise a confident daughter), and even then the advice is basically limited to Be willing to fail. If you really want to know how to raise your confidence level and get along in society, reading The Charisma Myth might be time better spent. Best book Ive read in decades; excellent research and science plus authors own experiences woven in.
This book points out how men learn, from childhood on, how to be confident, how to fail without feeling like a failure, while women tend to back away from that. I really enjoyed reading this book – it was like a summary of the many instances of my own crises of confidence through my life, and provided much food for thought. I am also discussing it with the men in my life too – because the men have no idea how deeply pervasive the feelings of inadequacy can be in their very capable and clearly intelligent women. I have read a lot of female empowerment books and what I loved about this one was how they roped genetics as part of the confidence issue. This book has a lot of interesting science but besides that I found it hard to stay focused when reading it. I do think that other people may enjoy this book more though considering I tend to enjoy thrillers and self help books the most.
Too much fluff fills this book, mostly because Ms. Kay and Ms. Shipman dont 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, its so difficult), discrimination against unmarried women and lesbians. All of these issues affect womens confidence, yet, at most, theyre skimmed over or referenced in passing. Ive 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 shes short and looks like a high school student and how could the company expect clients to take her seriously?
I dont 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 theyre passed over for a promotion. 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 whats 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. The more I read of The Confidence Code, the less I bought into Ms. Kay and Ms. Shipmans limited view of the world.
Rather, its to point out that, once again, Ms. Kay and Ms. Shipman exclude important details that show how these womens successes are not simply about confidence. 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 womens confidence in the workplace and better appreciate the balancing act that many women face day after day. I worry about how I sit in 30 person meetings at work with 28 men and 2 women.
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:Ch 1-5: Studies and stats on how women undermine themselves and how stereotypes alter how we are perceived (by men AND women). The moral: don’t read this book looking to find an answer or “code” to improve your confidence. I read the teaser article about this book in The Atlantic and was intrigued enough to read the actual book.
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. 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.
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. 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. “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. 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.
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!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.
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. )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. 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. “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. I guess if you haven’t read the following books, this book may be of interest to you.
Best Book Quote
It is often much harder to get rid of books than to acquire them. They stick to us in that pact of need and oblivion we make with them, witnesses to a moment in our lives we will never see again. While they are still there, it is part of us.
Carlos MarÃa DomÃnguez
They explore all the different potential contributors to confidence (or a confidence problem): biological contributors, upbringing, cultural influences, experience. There are biological things going on in people (men and women) that can affect confidence. I know Ive 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. Another part of the book that fascinated me was about perfectionism and how women wear the mantle proudlybut are mostly unaware that its actually a hindrance to their own success.
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. 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. 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.
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. And the confidence gap is an additional lens through which to consider why it is women don’t lean in. “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. 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?!- “Confidence requires a growth mind-set because believing that skills can be learned leads to doing new things. This book reminds me of: Lean in : women, work, and the will to lead by Sheryl Sandberg
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. Theres quite a bit of content dedicated to genes in the first half of the book, and then the authors reveal their own genetic results near the end that really just goes to show that genes hold little weight in terms of how confident one is. – Confidence is linked to doing. . . one of the essential ingredients in confidence is action, the belief that we can succeed at things, or make them happen. . . (ie. – 5 tips on how to build confidence (chapter 6, near end of book):Speak up (without upspeak) – Say it with confidence, because if you dont sound confident, why will anyone believe what you say?
Reading this book was a fascinating experience because I realized how little I’d ever really thought about confidence. There was a lot of overlap between this book and other books I’ve read and professional development experiences I’ve had lately, and I’m very intrigued by the interplay of our genetics and our experiences. At work I received feedback on my leadership skills that I need to have more confidence and show more confidence. This book definitely delivered with thorough citations of scientific studies of what confidence is and how can it be gained. It also helped me explain why in my personal and dancing life I might have more confidence than at work. With confidence you will have the courage to try things out and having a chance to learn from mistakes and eventually succeed instead of not trying at all.
The authors found that the women working at HP applied for promotions only when they believed they met 100 percent of the qualifications necessary for the job. The book also includes fascinating research on genetics and personality and epigenetics: how one can change your own genes in your life and pass the modified genes to ones children. Every woman should read this book, especially if you are in tech or other highly male dominated field. The authors consider many factors that influence woman’s confidence and how that translates to work, raising children, and relationships of all sorts. This book will likely not give a huge dose of confidence to a woman who has been so hurt and worn down by an abusive relationship that she can’t see the promise of a future.
Having worked in a male-dominated environment for so long, many of the men with who I worked were comfortable confiding in me about their lack of confidence in some decisions. A scientific and practical book looking into the confidence issue of women. The Confidence Code shows that women and men are made differently, so generally speaking we are more worried hence less confident than men. I highly recommend the book to women of all ages in all walks of life. The best thing about this book is that it pointed out some alarming facts about just how much women undermine their careers by expecting near perfection of themselves while men are more likely to take chances, such as applying to jobs that they are not technically fully qualified for. This is not a self-help book, but a journalistic exploration of why women lack confidence compared to men.
Then they started to talk about how women use ‘both sides of the brain’ and discussed left and right brain thinking, which has been proven to be a simplistic theory: there are different areas in the brain that enable various functions, but it is not a simple left/right split. It seemed as though the authors, in their enthusiasm to report their research,were ignoring the likely possibility that men and women act and think differently because society expects different things of them, and the brain grows to be good at what it practices most and what is expected of it. Having read it on my e-reader (meaning I retain less than I’d like to, and having a less-than-optimal method/chance of referring back to any of the material), I am not sure that I learned anything from the book.
The Confidence Code highlights a very important subject that affects both men and women. I found a lot of the information beneficial and allowed me to self reflect and plan ways to change my behavior to continually foster my own confidence. I had to laugh out loud, because I was very confident in my ability to learn math and but even with my confidence, I failed math classes multiple times. Katty Kay and Claire Shipman deserves four out of five bird feathers for The Confidence Code. The question this book made me ask introspectivly was have I become less confident or more aware of the world around me?I felt as a mother of two girls, this book helped me gain tools to better raise confident young women, who won’t shy away from an opportunity and will learn to speak up and be heard without fear of “second guessing” themselves.
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- 'The Confidence Code The Science And Art Of Self-Assurance---What Women Should Know' is Top 10 Selling Book in Amazon Under 'Self-Help Books' Category.
- 'The Confidence Code The Science And Art Of Self-Assurance---What Women Should Know' is Top 10 Selling Book in Amazon Under 'Self-Help Books' Category.