The Cost of Self Bias on Gender Inclusion for Women

Beware of the messages you believe about your value

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Self bias adds a new layer to the narrative of gender inequality, which can complicate the efforts to create sustainable solutions for equilibrium in leadership. Imagine that the factor that has the ability to impact your success in the market is the way you view your own value. The self-belief factor is more difficult to solve than the implicit biases that have been created by outdated hetero-normative barriers.

In fact, from a professional perspective, I respond to thousands of women via email and social media each week, who simply do not believe in themselves. The inherit belief that women do not believe they are worth more, which scares them out of utilizing accessible resources to add substantial gains in the gender inclusion debate, is a real issue. Imagine there are several tools and resources in the market, which remain virtually untouched due to the self belief that nothing will change even if they try. To further add to the issue are the generalized stories that women continue to substantiate as a direct result of the bias.

I have encountered and examined many of the self inflicted biases, which damage the self-esteem of highly qualified women, who simply fear the power of standing out in the market. These are biases, which often remain dormant until we are forced out of our comfort zone professionally. The market is shifting and the feminist movement is gaining massive momentum, but there are women who will participate in the dialogue, yet fail to take action. The belief that “it will always be this way” is a real factor, which must be addressed to solve the inequity in the market.

Here are the top 5 self-biases we examine daily:

The Comparison Bias: Everyday, I face challenging questions from women leaders who measure themselves and their ability to elevate professionally by comparing their qualifications to others. The consistency of finding flaws, rather than assets, is a true dilemma for women, who view their success from old standards.

The Competitive Bias: Unlike the Comparison Bias, the challenge is not in comparing themselves to others, rather competing with others for the same opportunities. This bias limits women to conforming to outdated standards by competing with other people for limited opportunities. 

The Qualification Bias: This is a level of bias, where women believe they are under-qualified to apply for large scale opportunities. In examining this theory, in 2016, we approached 2 staffing firms to fill an open position within our company for 60 days. We outlined 10 preferred qualifications we were seeking in a candidate, and out of the 126 applicants, 38% were women. The feedback from the staffing firms was “if women do not feel 100% qualified, they will not apply.”

The Belief Bias: This is when we conform to believing that change will never happen, or at least for us. The belief bias occurs when women believe they do not possess the strength to fight old, systemic beliefs about gender expectations. Subsequently, adapting to stereotypical norms.

The Rejection Bias: Simply, believing the answer will always be “no” without trying. This level of bias is often a direct result to referencing other people’s experiences. To avoid the same outcome, women prepare for defeat before asking for specific opportunities.

The solution is not universal, but it is simple: Beware of the messages you believe about your value. Some of our biases are generational, while others are messages we have inherited over time. It is our time to believe in ourselves and do more than participate in the dialogue. Now is the time to believe that you have the power to ask for more. 

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