Are Women Their Own Worst Critics?

imagesDiving into our research and immersing into how to enhance gender diversity in Pakistan through our Engage Women initiative and the Women@Work Study, is like peeling an onion. Every time you think you have one insight, it leads to a deeper layer with even more profound insights. The more I learn, the more I go jumping from and connecting one thought to another.

While surfing the web I came across Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches initiative and was blown away by this social experiment. I don’t know who came up with the idea, but the concept of letting an artist make two sketches of the same woman, one as she sees herself and one how she is seen by a stranger, is utterly genius and mind boggling. The results were fascinating; only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful. The dove website says it all; “women are their own worst beauty critics.”

While I was thinking over on this insight, my monkey brain leaped to Sheryl Sandberg’s, Ted Talk video on Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders (she has recently translated these thoughts in her best selling book: Lean In.) In this, Sandberg explains that amongst others, one of the main reason why women progress less in the corporate world is that they are the own worst critics. According to her, when a man achieves a certain task, he screams it from the roof tops and gives high fives all around, whereas when a woman achieves a similar task, she still wonders what she could have done better.

So maybe women are not only their own worst beauty critics but also their own worst career critics. Maybe a boost of confidence is all they need, or maybe they need to see their achievements through the eyes of another. What do you think; are women getting in their own way by being too critical?

– Paul Keijzer

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4 thoughts on “Are Women Their Own Worst Critics?

  1. Interesting question! As a father of 3 grown up daughters my observation is that women are very open about their own self criticism – more so than men! They share this criticism with others, and while this might be seen as “publicizing” their own weaknesses, I think it also allows for feedback, which is helpful. Men, on the other hand, are not so openly self critical, but then miss out on the feedback!

    • Interesting observation John. Many men most likely still believe that if you want to be perceived as strong you can’t show your weaknesses. Whether we both know that it is the other way round!

  2. The reason why there are not many women leaders is not that they are their worst critics, but its because they never, or should I say they never learn to appreciate themselves. Especially in our society where I see many housewives who are a strong reason behind the success of their husbands and their kids, but who unfortunately don’t realize how important their part has been throughout the journey. Sadly, women (many I’ve seen) are always in seek of approval from others but they never accept themselves the way they are…

  3. Nice sharing..
    The question is though bit difficult but being a women I feel that criticism is not getting in the way to achieve anything in life. Being my on critic, I do try to improve myself on number of aspects that I believe are difficult to be worked on if pointed by others. I {and believe many other females] remain in an urge to do better and better on every assigned task, and positive criticism along with self accountability enable us to accomplish challenging goals of life…….

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