Is your image holding you back?

A lack of confidence is holding back women in their careers according to a new survey. Almost 50% of women believe they would be further in their career if they had more self-belief.

In a survey of 2,000 British women – carried out by Head & Shoulders – 92% of respondents admitted to having hang ups, with the most frequent obstacle being anxiety about their appearance.

imagematters shy face

These inhibitions are having a severe impact on women in the workplace; 24% of women said they’d be at a more senior level in their careers if they were freed of their self-doubt.

The survey also found that 24% of women lack confidence to highlight things they’ve done well and 17% aren’t sure enough of themselves to seek promotion.

The lack of self-confidence among women is largely down to their appearance. More than half of those surveyed said that they lacked confidence in what they looked like. While this may appear irrelevant when it comes to applying for jobs, research carried out by Debenhams  found that interviewers often judge candidates according to their grooming. Chipped nail polish was the worst offender, signalling to the employer that the candidate is nervous or unprepared – split ends apparently suggest they’re lazy!  You may be thinking that this is grossly unfair, but unfortunately, this is the reality of what is happening – I hear it time and time again from interviewers – how they determine the quality of a candidate from the very initial impression.

What is going on here?  I think that it begins in the teenage, school-going years.  The pressure on young women to look good and the lack of self-belief and self-confidence in how they look is huge.  It is, amongst other things,  the constant barrage of seemingly beautiful (air-brushed in many cases) women from the pages of magazines, web and of course, peer pressure.  The survey results confirm this by showing how far into childhood the problem goes: more than half of women have been burdened by their hang ups since school with 25% of those saying it began with playground teasing. Only one in 10 said their hang ups started in the workplace.

I passionately believe that we have to help transform girls in further education, whether at 2nd level, college or university, through workshops which will enable them believing in themselves, their capabilities, how to present themselves with confidence and belief and how to transition into the corporate world with ease.

I have been fortunate to work in a number of schools, 3rd level colleges and training organisations presenting a wide range of personal image courses all aimed at giving participants to make the most of their personal image (without being a slave to fashion) as well as boosting confidence and self-esteem.  It is so heartening to see the transformations and the confidence beginning to blossom.  But it isn’t even touching the tip of the iceberg.

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