The Confidence Code Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: The Confidence Code empowers women to become more courageous by explaining their natural tendencies toward timidity and how to break them even in a world dominated by men.

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Most people you ask whether men or women are more confident in the workplace will probably say men are. We might have come a long way with women’s rights, but cultural stereotypes often make women feel they need to hold back, even when they are more than qualified to do something. 

And it’s no wonder women still feel this way, many industries are still heavily dominated by men. Did you know that only 4% of Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs? 

But it doesn’t have to be this way. In The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know co-authors Clare Shipman and Katty Kay argue that women can choose to be just as confident as men. They reveal confidence is not just genetic but to also environmental, so they show step by step how you can find and increase your confidence. 

Here are the 3 most empowering lessons I got out of this one:

  1. Confidence is a connector between what we think and what we do.
  2. Stereotypes and innate differences between men and women cause women to hold back.
  3. Confidence can be learned, even if we’re not predisposed to it.

Are you ready for a boost to your self-esteem? Let’s dive right in!

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Lesson 1: The bridge between our thoughts and actions is confidence.

Do you ever look back at your life and wish you would have done something or said something when you had the opportunity? Many of us do. This is a sign that something was within our power, but we lacked the confidence to actually go for it.

When we lack confidence, we decide to stay inactive. Women seem to be especially prone to this kind of inaction. Because you aren’t totally confident that your efforts will be successful, you are scared to even try

One example of how women fall prey to this mindset more than men is an experiment done by professor Zach Estes. It involved solving complicated puzzles, and at first, it seemed men performed better than women on the test. But when he looked further, he discovered that women often left many questions unanswered.

So Estes asked them to do the test again, but this time, answer every single question whether they were sure of the answer or not. He found that when they did this, women performed just as well as men.

Lesson 2: The difference between women and men as well as gender stereotypes play into why women often hold back in the workplace.

We can all agree men and women should be treated equally. But it’s hard to argue that there aren’t innate differences between the two genders. Both have different levels of hormones as well as a slightly different brain structure.

So it makes sense that men and women tend to display confidence differently, which is particularly prominent in the workplace. One of the reasons for men being more likely to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company is that they tend to be more aggressive in the way they display confidence. Men are quicker to voice opinions, while women collaborate more and are more humble. 

What makes the problem worse is that because the workplace is usually male-dominated, aggression is usually a valued trait. A male-dominated workplace also makes a woman less likely to speak up, even if she has a good idea, hindering her progress.

However, it’s important to understand that women can act on their softer side and still be confident. You can stand behind your opinions without being aggressive. Active listening, which is typically a more feminine approach, is also a show of strength.

Lesson 3: Even though there is a genetic component, we can learn to be confident.

With the advancements in genetic research today, we know that character traits such as aggression and confidence are written in our genes. Scientists have found that our genes determine up to 50 percent of our confidence. So if half of our confidence comes from genes, what about the other half?

Our environment can explain the other half. This is partially because our environment can actually influence the genes we have.

Researchers have found personal experiences can physically alter the shape of our genes, making them act differently. Researchers have seen in monkeys that upbringing can be a huge factor in confidence. Monkeys with genes for low confidence raised by a good mother are even more confident than those born with the genes for confidence. 

Even if you are in adulthood and lack confidence, it is still possible to break the cycle of low-confidence. Because our brains have a quality called plasticity, we can actually cause physical changes in the brain through certain thought patterns. We can make alternative patterns of thinking that avoid automatic negative thoughts. 

Everyone has negative thought patterns cycling through their brains on a regular basis. Changing these into positive patterns can be a way to raise confidence. If you beat yourself up about not being able to do things perfectly, try thinking instead of something you’re good at, like multitasking. 

We know that not being as confident causes us to be inactive. This is mainly for fear that we might fail. But failing is essential to confidence. So don’t be afraid of it! The more you try, the more you’ll fail. But that’s okay because in doing so you’ll learn failing isn’t really that bad, and won’t be as afraid of trying the next time. Being confident means that you don’t let your fear of failing stop you from going out and doing what you desire.

The Confidence Code Review

The Confidence Code is a great book that should be read by women everywhere. Whether you lack confidence or not, you will learn something. The more we can encourage young girls and women to be more confident and try for their dreams, the better the world will be.

Who would I recommend The Confidence Code summary to?

The 37-year-old mom who wants to start a business but is afraid, the 53-year-old businesswoman who worries about standing up for herself in meetings, and every woman young or old.

Last Updated on September 7, 2022

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Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.