Are You Unsure About Your Success? Women Execs Fear They’re Less Capable

August 16, 2013  |  


When Oprah interviewed Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg for the April 2013 issues of O, they spoke about feeling at certain points in their careers they were unworthy of their successes — that somehow they made it because they were “lucky.” Both women agreed women tend to shy away from “owning” their success, instead they attribute it to other factors not their own smarts and talent.

Now a new study proves Sandberg and Winfrey hit the nail squarely in the head. The study by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2012 Women’s Report found that women not only lack confidence but they are generally more afraid of failure than their male counterparts.  And this lack of confidence causes them to hold back from taking risks to expand their businesses. ” [W]omen appear to show reluctance to scale their businesses or to enter new and less tested markets,” reports Inc.

The 2012 GEM report was extensive. It surveyed 198,000 people in 69 countries, where in all but seven (Panama, Thailand, Ghana, Ecuador, Nigeria, Mexico and Uganda) of the countries surveyed women represent a minority of the nation’s entrepreneurs.

So why do successful women still feel inadequate? “The study cites a number of issues, including difficulty in obtaining higher level resources such as equity capital or corporate procurement contracts, as well as status expectations and gendered roles. But what’s really interesting is that in every region studied women have a greater fear of failure than men,” reports Inc.

The report also found that women business owners tend to fly solo — they are more likely than men to operate without employees. According to Inc. this tendency could be due to a “lack of funding and self-imposed expectations that they should be capable of doing it all.”

Women also often start businesses out of a necessity for additional income after beginning a family, choosing to leave the workforce to remain close to their children (also due to the cost of childcare).

Just as women often operate without help, they also don’t seek out mentors, found the report.

According to the report, in no country were women more likely than men to interact with many other entrepreneurs. “In other words, more men than women have a strong network of entrepreneurs and, in my opinion, this is directly linked to success levels,” reports Inc.

So the takeaways would be: women need to be confident in their talents, build stronger networks, and be less fearful of failing. Are these things that you can do in your own professional life?

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