(May 13, 2014) I think this is singularly one of the most important books written in the last several years. Journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman have done an amazing job in both researching this subject and writing about it in a thoughtful and productive way. The Atlantic’s May 2014 cover story entitled “The Confidence Gap” is a great in-depth article based on the research done for this book.
I was fortunate to hear the authors speak about their book with James Bennet of The Atlantic at an event held in DC in May 2014. Their research is quite enlightening and their conclusions resonate with me. They manage to boil down the definition of confidence to this: “Confidence is the stuff that turns thoughts into action.” They interviewed many women in positions of leadership to get their assessment of what women need to focus on in order to build confidence. One insight is the fact that women often over-think things where men have a bias to action. Women also tend to be perfectionists – if we don’t think we can do it successfully, we often will not attempt it. This ranges from skipping questions on a test to not applying for a promotion. They remind us that people who succeed aren’t always “naturals” – they are “doers.”