Almost three-quarters of women say they lack confidence at work on a regular basis, something happening across the board, regardless of industry sector or size of business, new research finds.
The two areas making most women nervous were ‘asking for a pay rise (43 per cent) and ‘standing in front of an audience to make a presentation or speech’ (40 per cent).
Other areas they found difficult were - networking (34 per cent), ‘being intimidated by my boss or other colleagues’ (27 per cent), ‘competing with work colleagues’ (20 per cent) and ‘chairing a meeting’ (19 per cent).
The survey 62 per cent of women who had taken a career break felt less confident on their return to work.
The online survey involved interviews with just over 300 women from a cross-section of sectors and company sizes, with a significant number of respondents (30 per cent) from large companies with more than 1000 employees.
It was conducted to mark the launch of My Confidence Matters, a new service aimed at boosting women’s confidence at work and help them overcome barriers, the brainchild of business women Joy Burnford and Sophie Edmond.
The research also showed 57 per cent of women said being part of a community of like-minded women would help to boost their confidence.
As part of the launch, My Confidence Matters is inviting business women to join an online community to bring women in business together.
Ms Edmond said: “The news is filled with shocking stories of women being underpaid and underappreciated in the workplace.
“One of the barriers we find is that women lack confidence in the workplace and I strongly believe this holds many of us back.
“We’re launching our online community in the hope we can help thousands of women gain the confidence needed to progress in their careers.”
Dr Geraldine Perriam, honorary research associate at the university’s school of geography and earth sciences, who analysed the data, said: “It is not, and should not be, a given that women experience low levels of confidence due to their gender.
“Masculinist ‘norms’ weighted towards specific, established types of organisational structure and demands on employees have been demonstrated to undermine women’s self-confidence.
Ms Perriam added: “One of the important ‘take home’ messages of the data gathered is that the women are motivated to improve self-confidence through training and networking.
“Building a community-network and skills development are priorities for the respondents. It is to be hoped that opting into these two pathways will lead to a more confident and collegial workforce of women in the future.”
In addition to the online community, My Confidence Matters is offering both individuals and organisations a series of online courses and in-person masterclasses.
The UK’s gender pay gap for full-time workers is at its lowest since records began 20 years ago .
However, Office for National Statistics figures, published last year, showed the gap between the sexes, based on median hourly earnings was 9.1 per cent. In 1997 it was 17.4 per cent.