The Confidence Code

The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance–What Women Should Know by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

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This is one of my favorite books of the year. Kay and Shipman research the biological and psychological origins of confidence, as well as the social reasons for the confidence gap between men and women. Importantly, they don’t stop there, but give advice and hope for women to build confidence. I learned a lot from this book that’s immediately applicable to my life and that explains many of my own hesitations and failures of nerve.

Kay and Shipman have a great chapter on the backlash that women often receive when they do behave with confidence. Since many of the behaviors we associate with confidence when a man does them are seen as bitchy or abrasive when a woman does them, it seems like women have to navigate a minefield to be successful. They talk about how confidence often looks different for women, and how our culture’s definition of confidence should be de-gendered and enlarged to incorporate more feminine expressions.

I found their discussion of the subtle differences between confidence and its sister components, self-esteem, self-efficacy, optimism, and self-compassion, very useful. They talked a lot about women’s tendency to ruminate, and how that undercuts confidence and leads to inaction; this is definitely something I need to work on myself. The authors included a section on how to raise confident daughters, which I also appreciated.

My reading of this book has truly made me look inside myself and I’m thinking about making some concrete changes. Watch the blog this week for updates.

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4 thoughts on “The Confidence Code

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