What Keeps High-Achieving Women From Choosing Executive Positions. VI. Results: Themes One – Three
Theme One: Extreme Confidence. Give me a stick and I’ll build you a bridge
Assumption: High-achieving women in today’s workplace may still exhibit imposter and bully behavior. However, their confidence is more solid than previous generations. This has led to new presentation strategies, including roles such as the Warrior, Queen, Revolutionary, Pioneer, Rebel, Seeker, and Visionary. These roles have emerged as they demand to be significant players in the workforce and seek to be recognized for their gifts instead of needing validation for their courage.
Summary of data collected: The “Imposter Phenomenon” and “Devil Wears Prada” behaviors and stereotypes that dominated both the academic and popular literature from the 1980’s to the present are passé. High-achieving women under the age of 52 are no longer plagued by self-doubts which resulted in the fear of being seen as a fraud and a vile need to protect their position. Instead, these women belong to a generation brought up to believe they could do anything they put their minds to. Most of them had at least one person in their lives who told them they could do anything. Many of them had their self-confidence enhanced by competing in sports in school (this generation experienced the acceptance and proliferation of competitive sports for women).
Therefore, this generation of high-achieving women errs instead on the side of overconfidence, rarely worrying about showing weakness. The only time they are concerned about not meeting a goal is after they accept a project, but even these feelings of overwhelm and doubt are fleeting. They are persistent, figuring out ways to bypass any “no” they are given. They get what they want and deserve, but not out of gratuitous entitlement; they work hard to get the recognition they feel is their right to be given.
However, the assumption was wrong about the roles these women take on. They are not fighters trying to change the world or the organization. Even though many of them have experienced gender and racial discrimination in the workplace that added to their desire to succeed, they did not see themselves as Warriors, Rebels, Revolutionaries or Pioneers. The roles they identified most often were Achiever, Change Agent and Innovator, meaning they love taking on problems and finding amazing solutions. They were more concerned about getting results within the confines of their jobs than they were interested in fixing the organization.