By Bethany Berkeley

I read a study recently published in The Atlantic on the confidence gap that exists between the sexes. The research confirmed that men overestimate their abilities and performance, and women underestimate both.The article further indicated that women applied for a promotion only when they met 100 percent of the qualifications and men applied when they met 50 percent.

To gather the research, dozens of women were interviewed, all accomplished and credentialed. Time after time, the interviewers came across the same issue: self-doubt. The researchers couldn’t figure out why the successful investment banker mentioned that she didn’t really deserve the big promotion she’d just received. Or why the engineer who’d been a pioneer in her industry for decades, told them offhandedly that she wasn’t sure she was really the best choice to run her firm’s new big project.

Over many happy hours and coffee connects, I’ve noticed a theme too—that each and every one of us, no matter how confident and put together we may appear, no matter how accomplished we are—experience self-doubt. And you know what? It is time to stop giving this little voice in our minds so much airtime.

Here’s my challenge to you:

  • Stop apologizing. Did you know women apologize more than men? In fact, I tracked my apologies for a day and I said, “I’m sorry” over 20 times. I even apologized to the waitress for bringing me a glass of moscato instead of the chardonnay I ordered!
  • No more ‘buts.’ Whenever we say ‘but’ we are automatically reducing the power of whatever came before it (“I need to exercise more, but…”)
  • Find your tribe. Surround yourself with people who challenge you, empower you, and don’t play into your self-doubt.   

The bottom line: you are stronger and more capable than you realize.


Bethany Berkeley

Bethany Berkeley is a Performance Consultant with Dale Carnegie. She is a University of Texas at Austin graduate and a frequent presenter on women’s leadership, business innovation, and personal empowerment. Bethany also serves on the board for multiple nonprofit organizations in the Fargo-Moorhead area.