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An exploration of the relationship between self-confidence and female leadership: The role of workplace coaching in supporting gender equality

F Wilkinson, S Rose Philosophy of Coaching: An International Journal 2022

Gender equality in organisational leadership is still poor. Evidence suggests that women may experience lower levels of self-confidence than men and that this may influence the representation of women in senior leadership roles. Addressing this would play a role in the equalisation of gender differences in organisations and coaching can be effective in building self-confidence and the allied concept of self-efficacy. An exploratory qualitative study using semi-structured interviews was conducted with 12 workplace coaches experienced in coaching female leaders. The aim was to explore the effect of self-confidence amongst female leaders and the role that coaching can play in providing support that will encourage leadership progression. Low selfconfidence was found to be ubiquitous in coaching conversations with female leaders, and was often a safer, surface level topic that masked much deeper issues. The value of trusted relationships that encourage trial of new behaviours was identified. A reflective coaching process of trial, reflection and adaptation is recommended to overcome low self-confidence and challenge leadership stereotypes. The study provides benefits to workplace coaches to understand the challenges that female leaders bring to coaching and how they may be addressed.

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