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The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know

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Following the success of Lean In and Why Women Should Rule the World, the authors of the bestselling Womenomics provide an informative and practical guide to understanding the importance of confidence—and learning how to achieve it—for women of all ages and at all stages of their career. Working women today are better educated and more well qualified than ever before. Yet Following the success of Lean In and Why Women Should Rule the World, the authors of the bestselling Womenomics provide an informative and practical guide to understanding the importance of confidence—and learning how to achieve it—for women of all ages and at all stages of their career. Working women today are better educated and more well qualified than ever before. Yet men still predominate in the corporate world. In The Confidence Code, Claire Shipman and Katty Kay argue that the key reason is confidence. Combining cutting-edge research in genetics, gender, behavior, and cognition—with examples from their own lives and those of other successful women in politics, media, and business—Kay and Shipman go beyond admonishing women to "lean in."Instead, they offer the inspiration and practical advice women need to close the gap and achieve the careers they want and deserve. 


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Following the success of Lean In and Why Women Should Rule the World, the authors of the bestselling Womenomics provide an informative and practical guide to understanding the importance of confidence—and learning how to achieve it—for women of all ages and at all stages of their career. Working women today are better educated and more well qualified than ever before. Yet Following the success of Lean In and Why Women Should Rule the World, the authors of the bestselling Womenomics provide an informative and practical guide to understanding the importance of confidence—and learning how to achieve it—for women of all ages and at all stages of their career. Working women today are better educated and more well qualified than ever before. Yet men still predominate in the corporate world. In The Confidence Code, Claire Shipman and Katty Kay argue that the key reason is confidence. Combining cutting-edge research in genetics, gender, behavior, and cognition—with examples from their own lives and those of other successful women in politics, media, and business—Kay and Shipman go beyond admonishing women to "lean in."Instead, they offer the inspiration and practical advice women need to close the gap and achieve the careers they want and deserve. 

30 review for The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Let me begin with this: there is some interesting, thought-provoking stuff in The Confidence Code. Unfortunately, that interesting, thought-provoking stuff could have been put into a magazine article. Too much fluff fills this book, mostly because Ms. Kay and Ms. Shipman don’t 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 Let me begin with this: there is some interesting, thought-provoking stuff in The Confidence Code. Unfortunately, that interesting, thought-provoking stuff could have been put into a magazine article. Too much fluff fills this book, mostly because Ms. Kay and Ms. Shipman don’t 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, it’s so difficult”), discrimination against unmarried women and lesbians. All of these issues affect women’s confidence, yet, at most, they’re skimmed over or referenced in passing. Really? I don’t think I’m unique or possessed of any special knowledge, yet I know women who have talked about all of the above issues in regards to their professional lives. Let’s take just one as an example: ageism. This goes both ways. I’ve 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 she’s short and looks like a high school student and how could the company expect clients to take her seriously? On the flip side, women from all levels of the corporate ladder routinely talk of becoming invisible as they hit their forties and fifties. Just when most of them are at the pinnacle of their experience and knowledge, they’re often dismissed, either figuratively or literally. It’s sobering, how many women have stories of becoming non-entities simply because of their age, while men of a similar age are lauded for their accomplishments and treated as wise sages. Yet if women try and continue to look youthful, they’re lambasted for that as well. It sometimes seems like a no-win situation, but there’s not a peep from Ms. Kay and Ms. Shipman about this issue. Likewise, some of their advice smacks, quite frankly, of obtuse elitism. They talk of how women don’t speak up enough at work, which is a shame, because, when they do, they’re rewarded. I don’t 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 they’re passed over for a promotion. But it’s not as simple as: if a woman speaks up, she will be rewarded and nothing bad will happen. For some women, yes, that’s true, but it’s not that easy. 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 what’s 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. It’s an unending balancing act. Yes, men have to do that as well, but not to the same level as women. It’s a headtrip, having to routinely adjust and readjust how assertive to be, how to phrase things, how “feminine” to be or not be. The more I read of The Confidence Code, the less I bought into Ms. Kay and Ms. Shipman’s limited view of the world. They’re journalists: it’s their job to see the lay of the land and get out there and talk to people. Yet I kept thinking of subject after subject that they brushed over, particularly when they either told amusing-but-pointless stories about their own children or interviewed successful women and omitted key parts of those women’s resumes. Kirsten Gillibrand, for example, is cited as an example since she says she was once uncomfortable with public speaking and overcame her fear in order to secure a senate seat. That’s a nice story, but it omits the fact that she came from a family that has long been involved in New York politics and that her first job out of law school was at an incredibly prestigious law firm. Add to that, she’s also one of the younger members of the senate and represents one of the most populous states. Maybe she did have some reservations, but she had ample confidence elsewhere in her life combined with ample connections to get that coveted spot. Likewise, Elaine Chao is the book’s rags-to-riches immigrant story. Which is partially true, although her father founded a shipping company when Ms. Chao was a child that is now a multi-million dollar company and enabled her parents, a few years ago, to donate 40 million dollars to Harvard Business School, Ms. Chao’s alma mater. To say nothing of the fact that, since 1993, she’s been married to Senator Mitch McConnell – something that, depending on the source, may have helped her in getting a cabinet position in the Bush Administration. This isn’t to undermine Ms. Chao’s accomplishments or to say that her family didn’t struggle during the early part of her childhood. Rather, it’s to point out that, once again, Ms. Kay and Ms. Shipman exclude important details that show how these women’s successes are not simply about confidence. Perhaps it’s not surprising that these advantages never occurred to either author, given that Ms. Kay is the daughter of a British diplomat and attended Oxford, while Ms. Shipman attended Columbia and is married to a former White House press secretary. The Confidence Code does touch on some important issues. 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 women’s confidence in the workplace and better appreciate the balancing act that many women face day after day. Not recommended.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

    I worry about my daughter. I worry about Disney Princesses and Magazine covers sending the wrong message. I worry about how I sit in 30 person meetings at work with 28 men and 2 women. I worry about the earnings gap between men and women in the same position. I worry about pink legos and barbie dolls. I worry that I won't be able to do enough to help my daughter become a strong successful confident woman. So even though this book is targeted at women, I picked it up hoping I could learn something I worry about my daughter. I worry about Disney Princesses and Magazine covers sending the wrong message. I worry about how I sit in 30 person meetings at work with 28 men and 2 women. I worry about the earnings gap between men and women in the same position. I worry about pink legos and barbie dolls. I worry that I won't be able to do enough to help my daughter become a strong successful confident woman. 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: 1.Praise Progress, Not Perfection - Stay away from generalities like "You are the best daughter in the world". Instead go with, "You did a great job on that math assignment" 2.Basic Challenges - It's important to challenge your child. Once my daughter gets a bit older she's going to start helping me with the handyman around the house stuff. 3. Don't over criticize bad behavior or overpraise good behavior.... it can train children to be docile and quiet, which won't do them favors later when they are hesitant to speak up in meetings. 4. Ditch the all pink room and sign her up for sports.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I think this book could have been distilled into an essay and it would have been much more effective. Throughout reading it I felt hopeless, depressed, or angry. Let me give you a breakdown: Ch 1-5: Studies and stats on how women undermine themselves and how stereotypes alter how we are perceived (by men AND women). Ch 6: Actually pretty good. Maybe just read this chapter? Ch 7-8: Meandering advice. There are a few tips in here that might be useful but many are just opinions and might not I think this book could have been distilled into an essay and it would have been much more effective. Throughout reading it I felt hopeless, depressed, or angry. Let me give you a breakdown: Ch 1-5: Studies and stats on how women undermine themselves and how stereotypes alter how we are perceived (by men AND women). Ch 6: Actually pretty good. Maybe just read this chapter? Ch 7-8: Meandering advice. There are a few tips in here that might be useful but many are just opinions and might not actually help. The moral: don't read this book looking to find an answer or "code" to improve your confidence. Also, don't read this book if you are a woman in STEM. There is a large section devoted to teaching girls that, "yes, you too can be good at math." I just didn't identify with the notion that women think there are things they can't do. Maybe I have more confidence than I thought and that's why this book didn't resonate with me?

  4. 4 out of 5

    Meg

    I read the teaser article about this book in The Atlantic and was intrigued enough to read the actual book. I'm not a self-help or trendy non-fiction reader, so this book was quite the departure for me. However, the thesis presented in the article in the The Atlantic really resonated with me. As an adult whose returned to college, I often find myself appalled at the lack of confidence and agency in the young women I take classes with. Often, in many settings from school to work I find myself as I read the teaser article about this book in The Atlantic and was intrigued enough to read the actual book. I'm not a self-help or trendy non-fiction reader, so this book was quite the departure for me. However, the thesis presented in the article in the The Atlantic really resonated with me. As an adult whose returned to college, I often find myself appalled at the lack of confidence and agency in the young women I take classes with. 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. It's strange that while the majority of writing students are female, an overwhelming majority of those who submit stories are male. It's something I've always found puzzling and concerning. 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. One of the main ideas in the book is that women are not given the same opportunities as men to fail and fail often enough to become well-practiced in failure, and thus when encountering failure in the real world for the first time as adults, we shrink back and learn we can't fail if we don't try. Which becomes learned helplessness. 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. I wish a lot attitudes and ideas in this book were not true. 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." There are three things I will take away from this book and internalize for life. Fail harder, stop ruminating, and own my success - I will never again credit luck for what I have achieved. There are no great epiphany "ah-ha!" moments here, but rather confirmation backed up by scientific studies on why we, as women, lag behind once we leave the sheltered world of school to the business environment. 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. And for this, the book has no solutions, save some very wide platitudes about blending male and female qualities to succeed in the workplace. And that is a very nuanced process that would probably take up another book. Great read if you have a daughter, work with girls, or if you're doing everything right, but not getting ahead at work and can't figure out why.

  5. 4 out of 5

    sharon

    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. Kay and Shipman do a responsible job of unpacking these reasons, looking partially at genetic hardwiring but also taking into account (Western) cultural practices that deeply embed specific gender norms into the workforce 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. Kay and Shipman do a responsible job of unpacking these reasons, looking partially at genetic hardwiring but also taking into account (Western) cultural practices that deeply embed specific gender norms into the workforce in particular. A man is arrogant and self-aggrandizing? Give him a raise! A woman acts the same way? What a bitch! Kay and Shipman don't handwave away this bind that women often find themselves in; they acknowledge just how depressing these double standards are and how the net impact is that women often overprepare in work and underappreciate their own expertise and contributions. Kay and Shipman's takeaways come down to a couple of surprisingly simple findings. One, that confidence is built when women act. Don't wait until you're perfectly prepared, don't wait for someone else to give you permission, don't wait until you feel like you're an expert. Go ahead and ask your question, talk about your accomplishments, ask for a raise, make your suggestion, submit that paper. Sometimes these things won't work out for you, but you'll find that even "failure" is not as terrible as you thought it would be. The other finding was that true confidence includes embracing who you really are. The key isn't for women to try to mimic behavior that is unnatural to them, but to embrace their own personalities and figure out how to contribute from their own strengths. 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!), while disregarding the roles that luck and privilege can play in success stories. There was also at times an over-reliance on certain studies without accounting for the limitations of that study's subjects. 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.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Britany

    I enjoyed this quick book about confidence in women. Katty Kay bring us many studies and research as she pulls together this novel. Starting with basketball and ending with biased math tests, all the ways in which women have always had less confidence and therefore always set themselves at a lower bar than their male counterparts. In most cases, men assume confidence while women second guess themselves. I'm leaving this one knowing that I need to demand more, and demonstrate more confidence I enjoyed this quick book about confidence in women. Katty Kay bring us many studies and research as she pulls together this novel. Starting with basketball and ending with biased math tests, all the ways in which women have always had less confidence and therefore always set themselves at a lower bar than their male counterparts. In most cases, men assume confidence while women second guess themselves. I'm leaving this one knowing that I need to demand more, and demonstrate more confidence based on my experience and knowledge. It should translate to more respect in the workplace and more of what I want in my life without bowing out because I don't have 100% of the skills needed for something. I did feel like so many parts of this book have been used in other speakers' presentations and the content has been shared before. It's nice to track it back to this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    jen8998

    Interesting topic but is covered rather superficially. Wish the book had more depth to it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lynne Spreen

    Review of Confidence Code The Confidence Code by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay is a wonderful book. It's funny (Katty Kay learning to kiteboard), relatable (stellar international leaders Christine Lagarde and Angela Merkel comforting each other when male politicians beat up on them), and easy to read. 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 Review of Confidence Code The Confidence Code by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay is a wonderful book. It's funny (Katty Kay learning to kiteboard), relatable (stellar international leaders Christine Lagarde and Angela Merkel comforting each other when male politicians beat up on them), and easy to read. 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.) Apart from making you feel good, why is confidence important? 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. Good compensation, happiness, and professional fulfillment may depend on confidence. Not born confident? Don't worry. "The newest research shows that we can literally change our brains (to make us) more confidence prone." There's a lot of wisdom in the Confidence Code. One nugget is this: "Most people believe they need to criticize themselves in order to find motivation to reach their goals. In fact, when you constantly criticize yourself, you become depressed, and depression is not a motivational mindset." 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." But most of us are perfectionists. How do we overcome these behaviors? 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. Have courage, take action, congratulate yourself for trying regardless of outcome, and move on. Engage in self-compassion. Practice / do the work. Mastery in one thing spills over into other areas. Meditation can shrink your amygdalae (the region of the brain that amps up fear) and stimulate your prefrontal cortex (the calm, rational area). If that's too much work, concentrate on how you present yourself physically. Practice power positions. Spread out. Take up space. Keep your chin raised. Don't use "upspeak" (i.e. sound like a Valley Girl when you talk). There's so much more, but here's the thing I want you to remember: the development of confidence is volitional - a choice. Or as Shipman and Kay put it: "Our biggest and perhaps most encouraging discovery has been that confidence is something we can, to a significant extent, control." What an important life skill for women of all ages to learn, and to teach their daughters and granddaughters.

  9. 5 out of 5

    L

    I guess if you haven't read the following books, this book may be of interest to you. Lean In Nice girls don't get the corner office Mindset Why is "confidence" just needed for women? What about men who lack confidence? I feel like this is actually creating unnecessary gender divide and further generalize women. And, in very similar sentiments to Lean In, this is about super intelligent, highly accomplished women who just seem insecure. Unreasonably insecure. So the message becomes more or less, I guess if you haven't read the following books, this book may be of interest to you. Lean In Nice girls don't get the corner office Mindset Why is "confidence" just needed for women? What about men who lack confidence? I feel like this is actually creating unnecessary gender divide and further generalize women. And, in very similar sentiments to Lean In, this is about super intelligent, highly accomplished women who just seem insecure. Unreasonably insecure. So the message becomes more or less, toughen up and be more like men but not too much so. Fair advice but seems to be targeted to a niche of established, somewhat well-off women. Advocate for grit? I don't think so. Why does the book spend SO much time explaining WHY women lack confidence? Does that boost confidence, is that why people picked up this book? I kid you not, only 1 chapter offered any advice to improve confidence and just sounds like it stole from Mindset. What a waste of 150/200 pages. Unoriginal and disappointing.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    Essentializing and very heteronormative but I appreciate reading about this topic as it is something I struggle with. The most important things I learned are: when in doubt, take action and be willing to fail. It is inaction and overthinking that deplete confidence. Work towards mastery by being willing to try and to learn even if you may never perfect the skill or be the best at it. And be yourself. Authenticity is confident. And lastly no "up talking" - say things like you mean them.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Meagan

    This was my "Self Improvement" selection for the Read Harder challenge. It's really more of a 3.5, but I think the topic is really important and the information is valuable, so I'm rounding up. ---------- Just over a week later and I'm back. I decided to read this book because I think I have something of a confidence problem. Not surprising, since research shows that most women do. Which is really screwed up! They did a study that showed that just asking women to note their gender before taking a This was my "Self Improvement" selection for the Read Harder challenge. It's really more of a 3.5, but I think the topic is really important and the information is valuable, so I'm rounding up. ---------- Just over a week later and I'm back. I decided to read this book because I think I have something of a confidence problem. Not surprising, since research shows that most women do. Which is really screwed up! They did a study that showed that just asking women to note their gender before taking a math test reduced their performance on the test. Don't make them consider their gender, they do just as well as men. Remind them that they're women, they do much more poorly. This is a problem. And it's what motivated the authors to write this book. They explore all the different potential contributors to confidence (or a confidence problem): biological contributors, upbringing, cultural influences, experience. It turns out (don't be too shocked) that confidence is complicated. There are biological things going on in people (men and women) that can affect confidence. When they are growing up, girls' often natural inclination to build relationships with others and be helpful to their mothers gets rewarded (because who doesn't reward a girl who's quiet and helpful?), but it turns out that rewarding little girls for being quiet and not causing problems may prevent them from trying new things, mastering them, and building confidence. And no one who's wandered down the toy aisle recently will be shocked to learn that there's something cultural going on. Girls get caregiving toys marketed to them. Boys get adventure toys or scientific toys. Girls get the quiet experience. Boys get to experiment, build new skills, and grow confident. Because it turns out that the number one thing we can all do to become more confident is to try new things. To become comfortable with failure. To become persistent. To master new skills and gain the understanding that we are capable of doing it again. I went into this book believing I had a confidence problem. I still think that I kind of do. I don't have that gut feeling that I'm good at things. I get nervous about failure. I have the sneaking suspicion that the people around me are better at things than I am. But the surprising thing I walked away with is that I have more confidence than I give myself credit for. I speak in public regularly, and enthusiastically, even though I don't enjoy being the center of attention. I made a career change to follow my passion. I speak up in meetings, and don't let myself be bullied into silence. I have an interest in science, and I believe that I could have had a scientific career if I had put in the effort. I believe that I'm smart. So, sure. I'm not immune to the confidence gap between the genders - but I've learned to give myself credit. I'm doing better than many! I think this is a thoughtful, research-based argument that every woman, and every parent, should consider reading. Turns out, when it comes to confidence, it's truly possible to change the world.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jaclyn Day

    This book is what I wanted Lean In to be. It’s relevant, actionable, and packed with research to back up their points. The book is fascinating even if you’re not in the workforce, but if you are--you have to read this. I know I’ve 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 This book is what I wanted Lean In to be. It’s relevant, actionable, and packed with research to back up their points. The book is fascinating even if you’re not in the workforce, but if you are--you have to read this. I know I’ve 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. One anecdote that stuck with me was from a female supervisor who worked with two junior staffers. The male employee stopped by the supervisor’s office often (and did so unannounced). He would throw out campaign ideas, comment on business strategy, share his opinions about things he’d read. Even if the supervisor shot him down, he shrugged it off or replied with a counterargument. The female employee, on the other hand, made advance appointments, came well-prepared with lists of questions and issues, and didn’t provide feedback unless it was solicited. The supervisor, though sometimes annoyed by the assertive male employee, couldn’t help but be impressed by his tenacity and his ability to take negative feedback and channel it into new ideas. This part of the book stopped me in my tracks and made me reevaluate my own professional demeanor. Another part of the book that fascinated me was about perfectionism and how women wear the mantle proudly—but are mostly unaware that it’s actually a hindrance to their own success. “Perfectionism actually inhibits achievement,” the authors write. It leads to “piles of useless, unfinished work, and hours of wasted time, because, in the pursuit of it, we put off difficult tasks waiting to be perfectly ready before we start.” We hold back, letting other colleagues go first, test the waters for us, because we want to be 100% prepared and qualified before taking on the risk ourselves. Put your work out there without obsessive thought, the authors write. Watch things happen. Perfectionism also creates blinders that can diminish an employee’s potential. By being so focused on the day-to-day, an employee can entirely forget to lift their eyes and look at the big picture. But, big picture thinkers are often promoted. I call this the logistics trap. I can find myself getting entirely caught up in logistics and smooth, well-executed tactics without circling back to strategy or pushing the strategy in new, better directions. I’ve seen “logistics employees” passed over. I’ve seen them wonder why. I have to fight not to get stuck in that place too. There’s a sense of accomplishment with being a logistics employee that appeals to my baser desire to be a perfectionist, but sticking my neck out and redefining strategy has always had better returns for me. I have to remind myself of this a lot. Anyway, this book was a gold mine of interesting information and advice and I enjoyed it immensely. It’s one of the most effective and insightful books I’ve read on the topic of women in the workplace and if you haven’t read it yet, please add it to your list. It’s well worth the read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I couldn't finish it. 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. What a waste of time--for the writers as well as the readers.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Gwen

    Largely elitist drivel, but with some good points 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. My same criticisms of Lean In apply here: you have to be in a position of power and influence (in a white-collar job, of course--nothing in here applies to Largely elitist drivel, but with some good points 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. My same criticisms of Lean In apply here: you have to be in a position of power and influence (in a white-collar job, of course--nothing in here applies to the service industry, retail, or manufacturing) to even begin to use these tips. You have to be exceptional, which most people aren't. What about the rest of us? While I appreciate Kay and Shipman's caveat of "we should pause and say that we know when we talk about women en masse we are oversimplifying," because of the authors' worldview, I had a difficult time absorbing their words: very little of their book actually applied to me. 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. Overqualified and overprepared, too many women still hold back. And the confidence gap is an additional lens through which to consider why it is women don't lean in." (21) 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. A terrible idea: - "...confidence should be a formal part of the performance review process because it is such an important aspect of doing business." (19) Kay and Shipman say this in reference to a (presumably elite) law firm. 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?! We need to reform how we teach girls, not break them down after the fact. Some good thoughts: - "Confidence is linked to doing. We were convinced that one of the essential ingredients in confidence is action, that belief that we can succeed at things, or make them happen. Confidence...is not letting your doubts consume you. It is a willingness to go out of your comfort zone and do hard things. We were also sure that confidence must be about hard work. Mastery. About having resilience and not giving up. ... It's easier to keep going if you are optimistic about the outcome." (49) - "Confidence requires a growth mind-set because believing that skills can be learned leads to doing new things. It encourages risk, and it supports resilience when we fail." (128) - "Making a distinction between talent and effort is critical. If we believe that somehow we're given talents at birth that we can't control, then we're unlikely to believe we can really improve on areas in which we're weak. But when success is measured by effort and improvement, then it becomes something we can control, something we can choose to improve on. It encourages mastery." (128)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I really thought this book was great. 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. In many cases, this leads to inaction in women, whereas men are hardwired to just keep plugging along whether they succeed or fail. Somehow just knowing that feels empowering. It allows me to recognize in myself when I doubt/ruminate, shut it down, and get on with it. Less I really thought this book was great. 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. In many cases, this leads to inaction in women, whereas men are hardwired to just keep plugging along whether they succeed or fail. Somehow just knowing that feels empowering. It allows me to recognize in myself when I doubt/ruminate, shut it down, and get on with it. Less thinking. More doing. Great book!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Westminster Library

    “Confidence is the way we meet our circumstances, whether they are wondrous and wonderful or really hard and difficult.” p. 25. This is a must read for any woman in today’s workforce, whether in a leadership role or not. Even if your workforce is home and you are raising children, it has important and beneficial information for parenting and supporting your daughters too. Intriguing from both a workplace environment and the scientific explorations of our brain, this book has given me a new “Confidence is the way we meet our circumstances, whether they are wondrous and wonderful or really hard and difficult.” p. 25. This is a must read for any woman in today’s workforce, whether in a leadership role or not. Even if your workforce is home and you are raising children, it has important and beneficial information for parenting and supporting your daughters too. Intriguing from both a workplace environment and the scientific explorations of our brain, this book has given me a new outlook on why I may do the things I do and how to overcome some areas that need improvement. It has a contagious way of wanting to put things into action as well as teaching self-compassion and breaking the perfectionism streak. This book reminds me of: Lean in : women, work, and the will to lead by Sheryl Sandberg Find Lean in: women, work, and the will to lead at the Westminster Public Library! Find The Confidence Code at the Westminster Public Library!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sepideh R

    It was amazing and at the same time pretty sad to read how our beliefs and culture affects how we deal with our confidence. Becoming aware of those random and common sentences we heard from our family and friends because of the fact of being a girl diminish our roles in the world day by day was kind of painful for me. At the same time, it's a privilege to acknowledge that we can still change that for ourselves, our friends, and maybe our future daughters. As the author mentioned in the title as It was amazing and at the same time pretty sad to read how our beliefs and culture affects how we deal with our confidence. Becoming aware of those random and common sentences we heard from our family and friends because of the fact of being a girl diminish our roles in the world day by day was kind of painful for me. At the same time, it's a privilege to acknowledge that we can still change that for ourselves, our friends, and maybe our future daughters. 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. "You don't get to "choose confidence" and then stop thinking about it as your life miraculously changes around you. It's certainly not as simple as clicking a box to add self-confidence to your list of attributes. When we say confidence is a choice we mean it's a choice we can make to act, or to do, or to decide."

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    This book was fascinating. There is so much to think about and try! There is so much insight to what makes women in general so hesitant and men so driven yet unphased by setbacks or failure. This book needs to be read for our daughters and for the girls in our schools. It is important information that could help turn the trend of women standing aside to a trend where women stand up and move ahead. A must-read for women of all ages.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nohelia

    I found this very helpful. I'll definitely work on speaking up more/being more confident in general

  20. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    2.5 I found this book a bit hard to get into at the beginning... I usually appreciate science and studies, but in this case, it didn’t really lead anywhere. There’s 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. Then why spend so much talking about it? Some things resonated with me, but a lot of other things did 2.5 I found this book a bit hard to get into at the beginning... I usually appreciate science and studies, but in this case, it didn’t really lead anywhere. There’s 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. Then why spend so much talking about it? Some things resonated with me, but a lot of other things did not... Here’s some things I liked: - 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. “Confidence is about action”) - 5 tips on how to build confidence (chapter 6, near end of book): 1. leave the comfort zone - even if you make the wrong decision, decide. It’s better than inaction. Failing is ok, do it, learn and move on. 2. Don’t Ruminate, Rewire - recognize negative auto thoughts and reframe it, think best-case vs worst-case, make thoughts your ally. 3. From Me to We - Make the focus about doing it for the benefit/on behalf of others rather than yourself (it’s not personal). 4. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat - Practice leads to mastery (but do NOT strive for perfection). 5. Speak up (without upspeak) - Say it with confidence, because if you don’t sound confident, why will anyone believe what you say? - Some Micro-Confidence - dos and a don’t (same chapter): - Mediate - Be grateful - Think small (break it down to smaller steps/accomplishments) - Sleep, move, share - Practice power positions - AVOID: Fake it till you make it - instead, just take action. Do one small brave thing and the next step will be easier and confidence will soon flow/follow. - Struggling with and then overcoming hurdles becomes a chance to show that you’ve got what it takes to succeed. See struggles as an opportunity - Think less. Take action. Be authentic. 2.5 stars. Some solid advice (i.e. Chapter 6) but nothing particularly thought-provoking and I was bored for the most part. Still, other people may find this book useful. Just wasn’t really for me.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Chanequa Walker-Barnes

    I read (or rather listened to) this book after it was recommended by a dean at a gathering for women aspiring to academic leadership. As a psychologist, some of the concepts here were not new for me. But the authors aren’t trying to present new ideas. Rather, what they do is to synthesize psychological research, epigenetics, and case studies on confidence (and other related concepts such as self-efficacy, optimism, stereotype threat, etc.) to explain the gender gap in perceived confidence. Their I read (or rather listened to) this book after it was recommended by a dean at a gathering for women aspiring to academic leadership. As a psychologist, some of the concepts here were not new for me. But the authors aren’t trying to present new ideas. Rather, what they do is to synthesize psychological research, epigenetics, and case studies on confidence (and other related concepts such as self-efficacy, optimism, stereotype threat, etc.) to explain the gender gap in perceived confidence. Their research is thorough and gets heady at times, but their use of personal stories and case studies helps demystify it. They offer practical strategies for women and for parents of girls about how we can raise our confidence even in the midst of a society that bombards us with self-doubt. There is one chapter toward the end where they overrely on personal anecdotes of women in senior leadership positions in corporate America in ways that are overly simplistic and that contradict some of the research-based statements that they make at the beginning of the book. Overall, though, I’m glad I read it and I’m already more attentive to the ways I sabotage my own confidence. I think this is a must read for women aspiring to leadership. In fact, I suspect that I’ll come back to it repeatedly.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Andree

    I enjoyed this, even if I (somewhat ironically) had to read it over a period of a month and a half, because it made me vaguely anxious. I think this strikes a better tone than some of the books I've read that are similar-ish in genre/type. I really like the writing style in this. I think that I'll probably remember the key messages, if not the specifics. Definitely worth reading. 2019 Reading Challenge - A book by two female authors (it seemed an appropriate choice for that prompt)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Pratt

    This is a genre that I don’t normally read - the so called “self-help” book. I actually enjoyed it and even found myself wanting to learn more about the science AND art of confidence. I have always considered myself a pretty confident person (the three short question/answer exercises in the notes confirmed that) but realize now that it’s because I worked at building self-confidence. I would recommend this to all women, as we need to crack our own Confidence Code.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Mangler

    Reading this book was a fascinating experience because I realized how little I'd ever really thought about confidence. The discussion of epigenetics was particularly interesting. 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. Having said that, I also agree with several other reviewers that this could have been condensed into a terrific Reading this book was a fascinating experience because I realized how little I'd ever really thought about confidence. The discussion of epigenetics was particularly interesting. 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. Having said that, I also agree with several other reviewers that this could have been condensed into a terrific article.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Having read The Atlantic excerpt that came out just before the book was published, I felt like I knew the main points already. Nonetheless, a worthwhile read - especially for the quotes from highly successful women.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    I wish I had read this 20 years ago, but then again, I likely wouldn’t have realized the importance of the insights of The Confidence Code at that time. I immediately felt the impact of this book on my professional choices as well as on the way I interact with my female students.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    At work I received feedback on my leadership skills that I need to have more confidence and show more confidence. The feedback said I already have the technical skills as a software engineer, I just need to be more confident about them. I came across this book in search of how can I increase my confidence at work. It was especially puzzling that in my personal life (of which huge part is dancing) my friends would rate my confidence as 10 out of 10. I think so far I had the impression that there At work I received feedback on my leadership skills that I need to have more confidence and show more confidence. The feedback said I already have the technical skills as a software engineer, I just need to be more confident about them. I came across this book in search of how can I increase my confidence at work. It was especially puzzling that in my personal life (of which huge part is dancing) my friends would rate my confidence as 10 out of 10. I think so far I had the impression that there is only one feeling of confidence and it applies to all areas of life. 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. The biggest insight for me was that “confidence matters more than competence in the rise to the top”. Confidence is action. 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. Another insight is that typically women have less confidence than men: “The women in Estes’s experiment skipped questions because they didn’t want to try something at which they thought they might fail. “ “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 men were happy to apply when they thought they could meet 60 percent of the job requirements.“ Google has shown since that if women know this statistic, they are more likely to apply for promotion and get promoted than they would have otherwise. (http://www.businessinsider.com/google...) 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 one’s children. “Gaining confidence means getting outside your comfort zone, experiencing setbacks, and, with determination, picking yourself up again.“ I did feel I gained a lot of confidence during my three month sabbatical traveling and pushing my comfort zone. Also this explains the difference between confidence in dancing and in software engineering. In dancing the feedback cycle is extremely short. You can try a new move and a couple of seconds later you will see whether it worked or not. In software implementing ideas can take months and years! The feedback loop is much longer. However the book gave me actionable ideas to try, for example speaking up more in meetings and not shying away of sharing my ideas. After trying for couple of weeks I already see improvements! Final quote: “If you choose not to act, you have little chance of success. What’s more, when you choose to act, you’re able to succeed more frequently than you think.” Every woman should read this book, especially if you are in tech or other highly male dominated field.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    I'd heard of this book from a couple of different sources and was pretty thrilled to get it free through Goodreads Giveaways. I had been looking forward to reading it for some time. To be fair, I am very intrigued by brains, by our internal workings, and by the influence of genetics and theories of nature versus nurture on how/why we behave. This book really appealed to that side of me. It is not hugely in-depth. There isn't room for that in a book that covers so many topics, but that's not what I'd heard of this book from a couple of different sources and was pretty thrilled to get it free through Goodreads Giveaways. I had been looking forward to reading it for some time. To be fair, I am very intrigued by brains, by our internal workings, and by the influence of genetics and theories of nature versus nurture on how/why we behave. This book really appealed to that side of me. It is not hugely in-depth. There isn't room for that in a book that covers so many topics, but that's not what is needed here. The authors consider many factors that influence woman's confidence and how that translates to work, raising children, and relationships of all sorts. There are quite a few gems in here, but it's not a magic cure for a lack of confidence. I realize that this does not apply to every woman, and I don't think the authors are claiming that it does. There are so many other issues to consider. 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. It most definitely won't be a cure for a young lady who has been told from early on that she is worthless. Like I said, it's not a magic cure. That said, for women who are having a tough time finding their voice or courage to speak up at work, for women who aren't sure how to balance that line between passive and aggressive, and for men who want to help empower women to be amazing, this book is incredibly insightful. I plan to either pass it on to a few friends or even buy a couple of copies. I've already recommended it to a few people. There are a couple of things that bothered me a bit about the book. First, there are some huge over-generalizations in here about both genders. Not all women fit into these molds as I mentioned above. Not all men disregard the opinions of others. 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. These men questioned themselves just as much as many women tend to. I think they "get it" more than this book indicated. They might not have let it bother them quite as long as I might, but to say that men just don't care what people think is pretty inaccurate. The second difficulty I had with the book is the references. There is no notation in the chapter that there is a reference point so for the first half of the book I found myself questioning the validity of many statements since I didn't see anything to back them up. Even once I realized that the references were there, it was just difficult me to refer to them without losing my place and concentration in the writing. In spite of those two factors, I still think this is an excellent book and will be passing my copy on to others who may benefit from it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Crystal Gao

    Loved it. Made tons of notes to myself. A scientific and practical book looking into the confidence issue of women. I've struggled years with confidence, with having it, with demonstrating it. The fact that my insights and opinions, every bit as good as men's, often get much less attention, bothers me. I feel I am doing the company I work for and myself a disservice by not getting good points through. I try to tote the line of sounding confident and "full of oneself". It is difficult. It is Loved it. Made tons of notes to myself. A scientific and practical book looking into the confidence issue of women. I've struggled years with confidence, with having it, with demonstrating it. The fact that my insights and opinions, every bit as good as men's, often get much less attention, bothers me. I feel I am doing the company I work for and myself a disservice by not getting good points through. I try to tote the line of sounding confident and "full of oneself". It is difficult. It is frustrating. Especially when I see how easily my husband demonstrates confidence, even in topics he has no idea about! The Confidence Code shows that women and men are made differently, so generally speaking we are more worried hence less confident than men. Knowing that already helps. The first chapters explain the science behind it, which is very convincing and easy to follow. Then here comes the million dollar question - what can we women do about it? The key is to "think less, do more". Practice is the only way to perfection. "Fail small and often" is important to building confidence. I remember vividly in one chapter the writers contrast girls and boys in school and later in life - "if life is one long school term, girls will all graduate with honors". Girls tend to do well in class, being submissive and obedient. Boys do the opposite, they are loud, boisterous, make fund of each other, fight in the playground. Interestingly the fights in playground prepares them better for real life, when rules are not well defined. It is of course easy said than done. I know I will re-visit my notes often and remind myself to stop being a perfectionist, venture out of comfort zone, even seek small failures. I highly recommend the book to women of all ages in all walks of life.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    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. The statistics were a wake up call for a near-perfectionist. This is not a self-help book, but a journalistic exploration of why women lack confidence compared to men. However, I began to feel uneasy with the 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. The statistics were a wake up call for a near-perfectionist. This is not a self-help book, but a journalistic exploration of why women lack confidence compared to men. However, I began to feel uneasy with the accuracy of their arguments when they stated that if you compare male and female brains, you would not be able to see the difference- yet in the very next paragraph, began to go on about men and women having larger or smaller areas in the brain, a contradiction. 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. They were paraphrasing someone whose credentials included 'a frequent guest on Dr. Oz', which probably would have been more effective before the Senate hearing put Dr. Oz on the spot for selling snake oil this week (but hindsight is 20/20, and this went to print before the hearing). 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.

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