Confidence at Work – Who has More – Men or Women ? Twitter Poll Results

Earlier this year, I started hearing about “imposter syndrome” and to be honest I had not come across it before. It seemed to be coming from more females than males, so I looked it up.

Imposter syndrome is a constant feeling of self doubt and insecurity and a fear of being found out to be a fraud even though that person is a high achiever. This syndrome was identified more than 30 years ago, in 1978 by psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes. At first it was thought that this affected only women but in subsequent research it has shown that men are also affected. Due to the biological nature of women, they are more susceptible because they produce less testosterone which is the confidence hormone. What I was surprised to read was a study by Natwest that 60% of women put off starting a business due to imposter syndrome. This is terrible. One more hurdle for females to overcome.

I decided to find out for myself among those who work online if women at work are really not as confident as men. I also knew there were some men who were not as confident as society expected them to be. Therefore I ran three Twitter polls, one asking those who identify as female, then one for males and the last gender neutral.  This first few days I did not have many responses and as I emailed many people individually, the responses increased and luckily had 424 people take part.

Female Results:

  • 54% of those who took part said they doubted themselves a lot (once a day) and that it held them back.
  • 24% said they did doubt themselves a lot (once a day) but it did not hold them back.
  • 16% of the 424 said they did not doubt themselves

If  you doubt yourself, that is fine, it is really what you do with it that is important. A person cannot be good at everything, this is especially true for those who work in online marketing. They are expected to know not just about marketing, but affiliates, PPC, SEO as well as building websites plus analytics. It is important to clarify to your team or boss or client that you are NOT the expert at everything as this does not exist. 24% of the respondents of the poll said they do doubt themselves more than once a day and it does not hold them back. This is the right attitude, they know there are some areas they need to work on (eg upskill in analytics) but they still move forward with their job and do the best they can.

When I speak to women and when I share news about their success including the post below about International Women’s Day, there is always a lot of interaction and support. Everyone wants to share the success of one another, we are supportive, but maybe we do not give ourselves enough credit individually. Lacking self confidence is ok if you know this is something that you need to work on and it is not holding you back. It is the same when people are shy or introverts, they need to work harder to put themselves out there and interact more with others.

Male Results:

A week after the female poll started, I ran the male one. There had been momentum from the female Twitter poll so I still had a lot of answers, 234 votes but that was far less than the 424 I had for the previous one.

  • 50% of those who took part said they did doubt themselves once a day and that it did hold them back.
  • 23% said they do doubt themselves once a day BUT it did not hold them back. This was actually 1% less than the female pole.
  • It was interesting to see that with the male Twitter poll 9% of the men doubted themselves more than once a day. This was higher than we saw with the female Twitter poll.

There was not that much difference between the male and the female Twitter poll. Just over half of women doubt themselves more than once per day and it holds them back, this is only 4% more than with men.

I ran a Twitter poll for those who identify as gender neutral but only had 6 responses. Therefore it was not enough to draw a proper conclusion. I hope to generate more votes the next time I run this survey.


As with many studies, I like to draw a conclusion and next steps. The format of the Twitter poll was such that I could only ask 4 questions. Ideally would have liked to see if doubt impacted their confidence (I did not mention this in one sentence in the poll) and I wanted to see if self doubt decreased with age. Also not everyone who wanted to take part in the survey could as they did not all have Twitter, so I will be doing a new one via Google Forms in a couple of months.

A lack of confidence should not hold anyone back. Both women and men in the study (54% and 50% respectively) said they doubted themselves more than once a day and it did hold them back. Now with us seeing the world change with COVID19, we cannot let our own self doubt prevent us from moving forwards. Companies are laying off many people. As of mid March, travel and tourism accounts for 10.4% of global GDP generating 320 million jobs. The COVID19 will affect at least 50 million of these jobs. There are more that are impacted such as retail stores, car manufacturers, banks, marketing agencies to name just a few. I have not yet been able to find the number of jobs at risk outside of the travel and tourism sector but was is true is that the global economy has been hit far worse than anyone would have ever imagined. It may take many years for some sectors (outside of travel and tourism) such as fashion to recover.

We can use the time of quarantine to learn and improve those areas we know we need to work on. There are many places offering free marketing courses and many sites offering free yoga and gym sessions. Learning can help to erase the self doubt we may feel, which can lead to a lack of confidence. We need to use this time in quarantine wisely so we are ready to return to work and life once the quarantine period is over, although life as we knew it has changed somewhat forever.



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