Some friends and I were discussing the phenomena in which, apparently, when looking at a job description many women will be reluctant to apply unless they can confidently satisfy 80-100% of the requirements, while many men will cheerfully throw their hat in the ring if they can scrape 20% (broad generalisations, clearly, but you get the idea).
One friend asked why this would be, which got me thinking...
Most of the pieces I’ve read on this (and I haven’t done a review of evidence so this is strictly anecdotal) seem to suggest that the difference is societal: women (again talking in general terms, #NotAllWomen etc) are raised in an environment that does less to bolster their self esteem and sense of professional worth than men. This seems to happen in spite of enlightened parents, supportive teachers and friends – though clearly all these things help. The fact is, society consistently – relentlessly – does all it can to put them (us), or keep them, ‘in their (our) place'.
It would be interesting to see research into how this 80/20 split varies across cultures and across race lines within cultures: are men of colour as entitled as their white brothers (#NotAllMen. Obviously.)? How do class and regional accents factor in? I suspect that the there is a scale, and that the higher up the White, Male, socioeconomic ladder you go the more likely you are to believe – and, crucially, be believed – that you can do what ever you turn your hand to.
Meanwhile women (and, perhaps, men who aren't white or have the 'wrong' accent…) have to prove their worth constantly, which makes them constantly question it.
I would also be interested to see research into the underlying feedback loop: do women feel that we need to have such a high proportion of the requirements for a given role demonstrably covered not simply because of a girlish lack of confidence or some innate inferiority complex, but because that is what our lived experience has taught us is necessary?
Is it in fact the case that men set themselves a lower bar at least partly because less is demanded of them?
(Don’t even get me started on why the pay gap is apparently all our own fault, a grumblerant for another day…)