International Women’s Day: Q&A with Eman Alzoubi
How do you define confidence, particularly in the workplace?
Cambridge dictionary defines the word as “the quality of being certain of your abilities or of having trust in people, plans, or the future”, however I believe it means much more than that. I believe confidence is knowing and believing in myself (my strengths as well as my weaknesses) and knowing that I am capable of anything. Confidence in the workplace takes it one step further. It is not only knowing and believing in myself, but knowing and believing in my colleagues, the vision of my company, and most importantly the leadership of my company. Great leaders will empower us, bring out our full potential, and will build, grow, and nature our confidence not only in ourselves but in everything we do.
How do you think the confidence gap affects women?
Various studies have revealed that women tend to be less assured than men are especially at the workplace. The confidence gap tends to inhibit their chances of succeeding, considering that confidence in what one does is perceived as important as competence. As such, men are promoted more and paid higher wages, which is at the expense of women, that may considerably be attributed to the confidence gap between the genders.
Do you think women’s workplace confidence has improved over the past few decades? Please explain why.
I do think that women’s workplace confidence has improved over the past few decades, mainly because of the changes that have occurred. Women have fought to prove that they are equal, and the world has started to listen. Equality is on the rise in the contemporary world, thus assuring women that what matters is performance and qualifications, and not gender.
On another note, women have been assuming new roles, proving to themselves as well as to others that they can do exactly what men can, if not better.
Moreover, the contemporary world has more female role models, who have been dominating in all fields, and that is inspiring newer generations and is enhancing the levels of confidence in women, especially in the workplace.
How important have confidence and self-belief been in achieving your career goals? Please explain why.
Confidence and self-belief have been instrumental in the progression of my career. I am able to do tasks with more confidence, which makes others believe in my abilities without considering my gender. I believe joining the workforce at an early age has definitely shaped my personality and self confidence and enabled me to become the person that I am today. I started my career when there was major resistance towards women, I had to beat the odds in order to level the playing field. Today, I feel fortunate that I have been amongst the first to start early on, so now I get to lead the change that my country is undergoing.
Have you ever experienced imposter syndrome (where you doubt your achievements and have an internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”)? If so, how did you overcome it?
Yes, I have experienced imposter syndrome, however, to overcome it I had to look back to my history. I had to look back at every achievement, every accomplishment, every success that I had contributed to in my previous workplaces, and that made me realize that I had been the most instrumental person in my success.
How important is mentoring, coaching and sponsorship in helping women to grow their confidence at work?
Mentoring, coaching, and sponsorship are very important for helping women to grow at the workplace. When mentored and coached, they realize their potential and learn that they are as equally competent as men are as long as they have equal skills and qualifications. At the same time, with sponsorships, women are given an opportunity to enhance their confidence by acquiring more knowledge.
How can confidence-building be built into career development strategies?
Confidence is as important as competence. Therefore, it is essential for confidence to be incorporated in career development strategies to ensure that one is able to achieve their best. This can be done by incorporating elements such as training and coaching in the career development strategies.
What can be done to ensure a woman being assertive in the workplace doesn’t negatively impact on colleagues’ perceptions of her?
Ensuring that qualifications and competence are the determinants of career progression at the workplace may eliminate negative perceptions towards an assertive woman at the workplace.