April 21st, 2014

red panda eating bamboo

What's wrong with wimminz, round #253,928

"The Confidence Gap" by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

This article infuriates me in a way that many Atlantic articles do, because it frames the issue poorly, contradicts itself, and twists even those facts that it presents as support for its argument.

Why is "Women don't have enough confidence" a better way of framing the issue than "Men don't care enough about failure"? Especially when the writers seem to be unhappy with the evidence that people don't care about competence as much as confidence: "Infuriatingly, a lack of competence doesn’t necessarily have negative consequences."

Why is takeaway message "Women need to to stop thinking so much and just act" when the article also contains this statement: "Most people can spot fake confidence from a mile away"?

A scientist studied how men and women did on a certain test when they were acting on their own, given instructions to try every question, and various other conditions. Women did worse than men when acting on their own because they skipped some questions, scored the same as men when the subjects were told to try every question, and scored lower than men when the subjects were told to rate their confidence before attempting the problem.
Finally, Estes decided to attempt a direct confidence boost. He told some members of the group, completely at random, that they had done very well on the previous test. On the next test they took, those men and women improved their scores dramatically.
...which the authors summarize as "What doomed the women in Estes’s lab was not their actual ability to do well on the tests....What held them back was the choice they made not to try." But nowhere is it suggested that men might be more likely to try because they have received so many other "direct confidence boosts" throughout their lifetimes.

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