Published by HarperBusiness on April 15, 2015
Genres/Lists: Career, Gender-Based Books, Non-Fiction
Length: 6 hrs 45 min
Read synopsis on Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon/Audible (this post includes affiliate links)
Why is it that so many women lack confidence? Is it cultural? Political? Genetic? This is what the authors set out to answer in The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know. Written by two journalists who spend their days in the male-dominated field of politics, they wanted to know what exactly led women to qualify their successes, hold back from taking risks, and lack (overall) the confidence they knew they should have when men had no qualms in doing all of the above.
In order to learn the why of things, they headed straight for the sources – successful, confident women. The book is punctuated with interviews with and advice from women who seemed to have it together, only to find out that even those at the top have questioned their competence and acknowledge that, while men are assumed competent until proven otherwise, women have to prove it first.
Depressing as this seems, the authors (whether they knew it or not) had the confidence in themselves to find the answers and set out to finish the book, anyway. It turns out that genetics plays a part, but doesn’t explain the differences between genders. Competence also helps, but doesn’t explain confidence (we all know a confident person who lacks the skills). There are also a lot of people who are very competent but not confident. So what’s the deal? It turns out the answer is quite complicated and there’s no one-size-fits-all model for explaining or getting it. There are, however, tools at your disposal. I’m not going to tell you what those tools are, but if you’ve ever asked yourself any of the following questions, read this book:
- Why do men negotiate salaries at 40% more than women and ask for a raise 30% more?
- Why does confidence trump competence?
- Why do some people with tons of experience lack confidence, and vice versa?
- Why do women perform more poorly if asked to identify their gender at the beginning of an examination?
These are, of course, the questions the authors seek to answer and they find some pretty convincing scientific and data-driven evidence to explain confidence along the way. Refreshingly, they also aren’t afraid to discuss their own lack of confidence and times in their lives when they lost out because of it. They aren’t perfect and are still struggling with the issue, which adds a layer of, dare I say, authenticity that knocks the book up a peg. Not ones to shy away from putting their money where their mouths are, they even go so far as to have a genetic profile made up to see if they could explain their own “inadequacies” and to figure out what predispositions have been foisted upon their children. Of course, knowing something can give you something to blame your “inadequacies” on, so they do a great job of explaining the multiple components that go into confidence in order to avoid doing this (while admitting that they have a hard time with it).
Throughout the book there are, of course, a lot of comparisons to men, but rather than being a book about men vs. women, it’s a book about men compared to women. The authors never give any indication that men just have a better, innate ability to exude confidence, but rather peel back the layers that make it seemingly easier for them and offer insights into how women can learn the skill without mimicking them. After all, women are women and should be women and shouldn’t try to be men because women are awesome.
This is a quick read and I listened to it on audiobook during a recent road trip. The narrator is perky and upbeat, which makes it easy to listen to the whole thing in its entirety. Plus, the flow of the book is such that once a question is answered, another one is raised, so then next chapter (the new question) is easily transitioned into.
Recommended for: Women who lack confidence and men, generally speaking.