Are women doctors as confident about their abilities as their male colleagues?

I was asked to run a session on Coaching & Mentoring at a conference yesterday. ‘Inspiring Women Doctors in Training’ had an emphasis on leadership and the keynote speakers all addressed why so many women doctors still don’t get to the top of the leadership ladder.

One theme that came out was individual’s ‘mind-set’. Whilst accepting that there will be many exceptions to the rule, all speakers spoke about an underlying lack of self-belief in many women doctors, an unwillingness to promote their achievements and a reluctance to seize opportunities.

So I wanted to share some research on Emotional Intelligence that was undertaken in 2011.

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is about intelligent use of our emotions. This requires being aware of our feelings and the feelings of others in order to manage our behaviour and relationships effectively. Underpinning all aspects of EI is our core attitude towards ourselves (Self-Regard) and others (Regard for Others).”Jo Maddocks, Occupational Psychologist with JCA.

JCA have been administering EI tests for over 12 years. They now hold data on over 12,500 people, across many professional sectors and covering 7 continents. What I found interesting about their findings is that there are a significant proportion of people in the healthcare sector who score low in Self Regard. In addition, women typically score low in Self Regard. This double-whammy means that women healthcare workers (including doctors) may be less likely to; rate their achievements, feel confident about putting themselves forward and feel empowered to do things differently.

Being a Doctor is a leadership role in its own right of course. Making decisions, taking action and leading others is a daily part of working life. But when thinking about the possibilities of further leadership in education, management, research, service development or commissioning, do women doctors believe “I could do that”? Or is there a saboteur in their heads saying, “I’m not good enough.”

To see the full JCA paper Click Here

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