Monday, December 28, 2009

Self-Confidence: A Barrier to Girl Leadership

Self-confidence is a belief in oneself to be able to achieve goals and objectives. This self-confidence or self-esteem comes from inside each of us. However, many of the individuals I’ve talked with believe self-confidence is the “the greatest single barrier to leadership for girls.” Several studies show that girls' self-esteem and self-confidence tends to decline after about age nine as girls enter puberty.

Timothy Judge, et al. (2002) contends that self-confidence is “an indicator of low neuroticism and is predictive of leadership. [Neuroticism is defined as] representative of the tendency to exhibit poor emotional adjustment and experience negative affects, such as anxiety, insecurity, and hostility” (p. 767). Although there is contention as to whether it is an inherent trait or a learned skill, self-confidence is a vital quality of a leader and this belief is supported by literature, theory and practice.

How can we help girls overcome this barrier and assist them in developing the self-confidence that is within them? Here are a few tips to consider:
  1. Provide positive role models
  2. Promote a healthy body image
  3. Recommend participation in new activities (i.e. hobbies)
  4. Support their interests
  5. Grant them the opportunity to share in planning and decision-making
  6. Actively listen to them
  7. Provide a safe environment
  8. Teach them to give genuine compliments and receive compliments
Peter Northouse (2004) describes the importance of self-confidence as “a trait that helps an individual be a leader … [by possessing] the ability to be certain about one’s competencies and skills … where one believes that she or he can make a difference and be an influence to others” (p. 19). As a parent of a beautiful young woman, I’m going to do all I can to ensure her self-confidence level is a healthy one. I’m envisioning her making a difference in our world. Join me by doing all you can to aid in developing your daughters, granddaughters, nieces and student’s self-confidence. The success of our world is depending on it.

 -CJ Harris

Carlena "CJ" Harris joined IBM in June 1997 and has held various roles within the IBM Software Group division. She has eight years of experience leading and managing virtual teams. Currently, she is a Global IT Program Manager. She holds degrees from University of Houston (Information Systems Technology, BS) and St. Edward's University (Organizational Leadership & Ethics, MS). CJ volunteers as a motivational speaker and life/career coach. She is also a wife, mother of two, coach, mentor and an aspiring writer.


  1. Nice blog knowing, how to build confidence is the key for self confidence.

  2. Great Blog,

    This is a global need, there's many young girls who has very strange ideals in today's world.

    Keep it up