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SunnivaHoltOnReasonsWhyWomenHaveSuchAHardTimeBeingAsSuccessfulAsMen

Sunniva Holt On Reasons Why Women Have Such A Hard Time Being As Successful As Men

In 2017 a 37-year-old woman in the small island nation of Aotearoa New Zealand captured hearts and minds to become the country’s leading voice following a provocative, powerfully female political seven-week campaign.

It was an “impossible” accomplishment achieved through tireless determination, political transparency, empathy and self-belief.

She is Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister. She has since ignited a global political agenda that focus on the wellbeing of people and the environment entrenched in her distinctly female expression.

Ardern achieved success while being pregnant, giving birth, breastfeeding and making UN history, participating at the highest level of global governance, with a baby seated on her lap.

Ardern lent in.

Women Don’t Have To Be Like Men To Excel And Elevate Others

Ardern is female in its most blatant reality and is emblematic of what’s possible. According to research she characterizes female leadership attributed to elevating everyone’s success.

Despite the pervasive lack of female leadership representation, women possess superior innate abilities that result in high productivity adding billions of dollars to the economy.

Professor Øyvind L Martinsen from BI Norwegian Business School evaluated personality traits of nearly 3,000 managers. He concluded that women excelled ahead of men in four from five categories: initiative and clear communication; openness and ability to innovate; sociability and supportiveness; and methodical management and goal-setting.

Another definitive four decade-long Gallup study of 27 million employees revealed female managers affect increased levels of commitment and enthusiasm in the workplace.

The X factor women bring to managerial positions, therefore, has a calculable positive impact. So while stymieing feminine characteristics chokes success, being audaciously female elevates everyone.

Job Application Bias Disproportionately Impacts Women


A popular statistic from a Hewlett Packard internal report is that men apply for a role presenting only 60 percent of required skills while women apply only if they meet 100 percent of them. Curiosity piqued, Women Playing Bigger author Tara Mohr sought reasons why.

Her survey of 1,000 American professionals was surprising. Results showed lack of confidence was the least reason for not applying, for both men and women. The top reason for both genders for not applying was: “I didn’t think they would hire me since I didn’t meet the qualifications, and I didn’t want to waste my time and energy”, selected by 46.4 percent men and 40.6 percent women.

A concerning response was that women’s fear of failure was a motivator for one-fifth of them not applying for a job, compared to just 12.7 percent of men.

Gender bias present in the language of job advertisements is problematic for women too. A joint study by University of Waterloo and Duke University found that job ads in male-dominated industries were over-represented by masculine skewed words such as “competitive” and “dominate”, reducing job appeal to women.

A Harvard Business School and Stanford University joint study by Katherine Coffman, Christine Exley, and Muriel Niederle also found that male employers are more likely to hire men, and females are more likely to hire women, attributed to unconscious bias about competency.

With fewer women in hiring positions, fewer women are, therefore, hired.

Women Need To Assert In Verbal And Nonverbal Communication

Women are not without infinite power to succeed when they engage with confident nonverbal and verbal communication.

Well Said author Darlene Price estimates nonverbal communication carries up to 93 percent more impact than spoken words. Humans possess 10,000 facial expressions, and behavior as simple as a smile, a nod, prolonged eye contact, initiating handshakes, powerful postures, and using gestures that project from the shoulders (a masculine trait) rather than elbows (a feminine trait) are effective in portraying confidence.

Apologist language, more prevalent in female communication, using phrases like “I’m just an office manager”, “I am just a team leader”, also minimizes and disempowers women, limiting potential.

Tone of voice is a powerful indicator of assertive authority. Rising intonation at the end of sentences, talking too fast, and using qualifiers such as “don’t you think?”, more common in female verbal communication, is another barrier to female success.

Women Can Do It All, Be It All And Have It All When They Visualize


Adern’s liberal, inclusive leadership, motherhood and “Let’s Do This” attitude is symbolic of what is possible for all women.

While it is unlikely in her campaign that Ardern had time to visualize being prime minister, there is little doubt the goal was in her sights.

It’s the Thought that Counts author David R Hamilton PhD says ”There is no question, now, that expectation and belief cause changes in the brain and body”. Research agrees, revealing visualization changes brain neuroplasticity.

A modest study by Harvard Medical School Professor of Neurology Alvaro Pascual-Leone compared two cohorts: one that learned the piano and one that visualized learning it. The study revealed that visualization reorganized the motor cortex of the brain that controlled piano-playing fingers, which was comparable to the group who physically played.

Visualising future outcomes works, as exhibited by its fierce proponents, Oprah, Jim Carrey, Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan. They practiced and believed in their success.

The Confidence Code authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman ask how can women succeed when they believe they’re not supposed to reach the top?

Women have the power to secure their infinite possibility by visualizing success, in interviews, pitches, meetings, salary pitches, promotions and life.

Like Ardern, women belong at the top, we just have to believe it.


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