We're So Inspired by This 10-Year-Old Girl Scout Who Wants to Help Young Women Be More Confident
There are very few of us who feel completely confident all the time. On top of that, the confidence gap is a real thing, especially when comparing how men and women view their place in the working world. And it starts really early. So early that a 10-year-old Girl Scout named Alice Paul took notice and decided to do something about it.
After being upset by the fact that the girls in her class didn’t speak up during a field trip while her male classmates had no trouble getting the teacher’s attention, she brought her concerns to her mother and Girl Scout troop. The solution was a new merit badge, the Raise Your Hand patch.
“Its message is that girls should have confidence, step up and become leaders by raising our hands,” Tapper explained in her New York Times editorial. In order to earn the badge, the scout has to promise to raise her hand during class and get three others girls to make the same pledge.
“People say girls have to be 90 percent confident before we raise our hands, but boys just raise their hands. I tell girls that we should take the risk and try anyway, just like the boys do. If the answer is wrong, it’s not the end of the world,” Tapper wrote.
A 2016 study conducted by the University of California, Davis surveyed more than 985,000 men and women from 48 countries over the course of eight years. Each respondent was asked if they saw themselves as having high self esteem. The researchers ultimately found that men reported having higher self-esteem than women, and that gap widens and is more significant in “Western industrialized” countries.
Related: 10 Things Confident People Don't Do
A 2014 article in The Atlantic cited a finding by University of Manchester business professor Marilyn Davidson, who noted that when she asks her students, both male and female, what they expect to earn when they graduate, men say $80,000 a year and women say $64,000. Clearly that dearth of confidence and self-esteem can impact everything from what opportunities you pursue to the salary you think you should earn.
Check out our four strategies to be more confident -- and help others feel the same.
Say your name and strike a pose.
A recent study from Michigan State University found that when you are in a stressful situation -- for example, if you have to give a presentation at work -- if you talk to yourself in the third person, it can help you calm down. So if you’re nervous about speaking up, give a phrase such as this one a try: “[Insert name here], don’t be afraid to speak up, you can do this.”
You also might want to give Harvard professor Amy Cuddy’s power posing method a try. Stand like a superhero and see how it makes you feel.
Read more: 4 Practices Certain to Make You Confident
Exercise the muscle.
If you get nervous about talking in professional environments, try striking up conversations and asking questions outside of the office context -- on the train, in line at the grocery store, at a friend’s party, waiting to be seated at a restaurant. The more you do it, the more comfortable you will feel.Read more: 10 Ways to Become a More Confident Person (Infographic)
Think back to a time when you felt empowered.
“Imagine yourself hitting that high note in the karaoke bar or putting your foot down when negotiating the price of your car. Let yourself feel embedded in that moment, even if it's only a visualization, the residual effects on your confidence will be powerful,” AudienceBloom founder and CEO Jayson DeMers advises.
If you go into that meeting with that memory, it can help support you through that stressful act of raising your hand and being heard.
Remember, if you’re nervous about putting yourself out there, it isn’t just you. Take a look around you. If you observe that someone has been trying to say something, give them the opening they need to make their point. “Oh, I noticed that XYZ had a comment. What do you think about the idea?” Give everyone a chance to contribute and they will help you do the same.Read more: 10 Things You Can Do to Boost Self-Confidence