How self-doubt manifests in men versus women

Executive career coach Shana Montesol Johnson at the Devex career forum in March.

Executive career coach Shana Montesol Johnson joined Devex at the career forum in Washington, D.C., in March and lead a thought-provoking session on recognizing and quieting your inner critic. Johnson, who has extensive experience in leadership coaching within the global development sector, spoke about the ways that self-doubt can impact an individual’s career success, and how the voice of negativity materializes differently in men and women.

Women are commonly perceived to exhibit less self-confidence than men, and research suggests that emotions of self-doubt do manifest differently in men and women. This is due to the way “our culture socializes girls to deal with self-doubt,” says Johnson. Women may also “internalize some messages” from the culture around them, which then causes them to question their ability to perform “stereotypically masculine activities” such as leadership and negotiations.

This questioning can hold women back from pursuing leadership or high-stakes positions such as those in humanitarian response. However, when given the right queues, women can outperform men in some of these activities.

For those who missed the session at the career forum, join tomorrow’s webinar on Quieting your inner critic. Johnson will share tools to help you recognize the voice of your inner critic and turn those reflections into positive actions.

About the author

  • Emma smith

    Emma Smith

    Emma Smith is a reporting and communications associate at Devex, based in Barcelona. She focuses on bringing the latest career and hiring trends, tips, and insights to our global development community. Emma has a background in journalism and, in addition to writing for news publications, has worked with organizations focusing on child rights and women’s rights in sustainable development.