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Jan Hills

Head Heart + Brain


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Evidence-based agony aunt: I’m the only woman in leadership meetings after promotion and I’m having a crisis of confidence


Our evidence-based agony aunt, Jan Hills, uses findings from neuroscience and psychology to tell you how to solve your organisational problems in brain-savvy ways, that work with the mind’s natural tendecies and not against it. Got a problem you want her to look at it? Drop us a line at [email protected]. We’ll get back quickly.


“I’ve just been promoted and to be honest I think they made a mistake! I just don’t think I’m up to this. The role requires me to attend leadership meetings and they are all men, I’m the only woman. Help! I need to speak up and sound confident. What do I do?”


It can be hard to feel confident when you take a step up—and research shows it’s even harder for women because of stereotypical expectations.

Research suggests that this isn’t just a ‘women’s issue’ although it is often presented as one. But women tend to underestimate their performance, while men tend to overestimate theirs. And while men attribute their success to innate skills, women often point to external factors like luck and help from others.

It’s difficult to change the way you feel, but you can change the way you think and act. When you walk into a meeting feeling insecure, remind yourself that you’ve earned your position. Then take a seat at the table see yourself speaking up and then do it.

When you’re faced with a challenge, remember that the man sitting next to you likely thinks he can do it. Odds are he’s right, and you can do it too. When you push past your insecurities, you gain more confidence, which feeds on itself and you become even more confident.

You may also like to look at our recent article on the Power Pose. It’s worth practicing

We are currently doing research for a new book about how woman can be successful in work despite ongoing gender bias. We use an understanding of neuroscience to provide tips, tools and the latest science on gender and success at work. As part of the research for our book we are conducting a survey of gender based work experience. If you would like to take part or would like to share your views please go to our survey.

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Jan Hills


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