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  • Writer's pictureTwin Candor

Why Do We See Women as Bragging and Men as Confident?

We have all heard that men and women are treated differently in the workplace for a multitude of reasons. One area we hear less about is the acceptance of self-promotion by men but not by women. Men are often admired and celebrated for pointing out their triumphs, while women are more likely to be seen as boastful or ‘full of themselves’. This discrepancy can be traced back to the intricate interplay of cultural and psychological factors that hinder women from openly sharing their accomplishments. Thus, it is essential to challenge and reshape our expectations to establish equality for everyone.


From a young age, women are often instructed to be humble and modest, while men are encouraged to be assertive and self-assured. As a result, women internalize a sense of guilt and discomfort when they discuss their achievements. Societal norms and gender expectations exert pressure on women to downplay their triumphs and maintain a milder demeanor, which hinders their ability to openly communicate their successes. This can have far-reaching implications for success and promotion in the work environment. Women have a fear of backlash when they engage in self-promotion. Studies have consistently shown that self-promoting behavior, such as boasting, is perceived differently depending on gender. While men who showcase their achievements are viewed as confident and competent, women who display similar behavior are often labeled as arrogant or unlikable. This dread of negative evaluations and possible social repercussions prevents women from sharing their accomplishments openly, as they strive to avoid being judged or shunned by their peers.


Boys and girls are socialized differently which contributes to this double standard. Gender stereotypes play a significant role in perpetuating the notion that men are aggressive, competitive, and dominant, while women are expected to be nurturing, modest, and communal. That means people associate self-promotion with masculinity and consider it incongruent with femininity. These societal expectations pressure women to conform to traditional gender roles, discouraging them from openly expressing their accomplishments for fear of being seen as arrogant.


In addition, the assessment of success is influenced by gender stereotypes. Characteristics such as being a leader and having ambition, typically linked to men, are often highly prized and commended. On the other hand, women who possess these attributes are more likely to face opposition or suspicion. The pressure exerted on women to downplay their accomplishments to appear modest or humble and avoid being seen as aggressive reinforces gender-based divisions.


The gender-based divide regarding self-promotion originates from a combination of cultural and psychological factors that are deeply rooted in society. Women are socially conditioned to fear backlash for touting their successes, and societal expectations discourage women from openly discussing their accomplishments. It is imperative to challenge these traditions and transform societal attitudes to create a more equitable society. This requires promoting gender equality, acknowledging and overcoming biases, and encouraging women to celebrate their successes without fear of scrutiny. Establishing an environment that supports both men and women in openly communicating their achievements paves the way for a more inclusive and fair society. All achievements must be celebrated regardless of gender. Let’s start now by giving shout outs to the successes and achievements of both our male and female coworkers. Start paying attention to how your workplace celebrates or ignores the accomplishments of everyone. And don’t be afraid of sharing your accomplishments. To effect change, it must start with each of us. Image by Freepik.




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