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Leadership coach hopes to close the gender confidence gap

Posted at 8:22 PM, Feb 22, 2022

Jamie McKinney is an author, motivational speaker, and leadership coach. She's the president of JMD Consulting.

“Our mission is to empower women to ditch doubts, speak up and achieve the careers they deserve and desire,” McKinney said.

She is inspiring women worldwide and trying to lessen the gender confidence gap.

“The confidence gap actually starts when women are in middle school," McKinney said. "The sense of belonging outweighs a need for authenticity. Young women make decisions to dampen their confidence or to shrink their aspirations because they just want to fit in, and they don't want somebody to say something negative about their bravery, their courage, their confidence. Then fast forward to the working world and your authenticity is still in there. But if you've been practicing not speaking up, or not exercising your confidence, that's now what you know.”

McKinney says it’s a combination of nature and nurture. Reinforced gender stereotypes mean young girls are often encouraged to play with dolls, while young boys are typically steered toward more aggressive activities. Those experiences plant a seed which McKinney says often leads to a stark difference in one’s ability to be assertive.

“I want to be very careful when talking about the genders, is that it's not all men and all women, but his studies show there are trends,” McKinney said.

Research by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that even when their performance on a task or job is equal to a man's, women describe theirs less favorably. The impact can be quite substantial.

“Men ask for raises four times more often than women do, and when they do, they ask for 30 percent more," McKinney said. "There's an isolated incident that has a certain level of impact, but over the course of one's career, calculations show that that can equate to $1.5 million for an individual's compensation. $1.5 million dollars, simply because one didn't ask.”

McKinney, who started off her career life in male-dominated fields like the automotive and oil and gas industries wants to change that. She’s been coaching women through her three pillars of leadership program. Those three pillars include strengthening self, communicating powerfully and leveling up your career path.

One woman who went through that training to make a difference in her life is Nora Thomas.

“Confidence is definitely something I've struggled with all my life, but it didn't hit me that it was going to be this way for me in the professional world until I got out of college,” Thomas said.

She says McKinney inspired her to start her own marketing and community outreach business.

“I've noticed how important it is to set goals and kind of set that standard for yourself to be like, 'well, actually, where do I want to take this or where can I see myself improving?”

Thomas says a boost in confidence is helping her in all aspects of her life. She wants to encourage other women to take the same leap of faith she did to end the confidence gender gap.

“We unfortunately kind of do work in a world that is run by men and a lot of us and a lot of aspects, which isn't a bad thing, but it's harder for women to grow," Thomas said. "You know, they're hitting the glass ceiling and where are we supposed to go from there?”

McKinney says she hopes to see a world where her job is no longer needed because women feeling empowered to be their authentic selves will be the standard.

“Everyone is born with a certain amount of confidence and confidence is just like a muscle in that the more you build it and condition it and flex it, the more it grows," McKinney said.