Some of you may know that I've recently spent 2 weeks in Rio working on a project. Now, in my field, you don't often find yourself among other women and it's almost unheard of to work in a group that contains only women, but during my first week, this was my reality. Myself, our client technical lead and two of the engineers in Rio spent our first week finalising items for our project and tying up loose ends in preparation for the plant go-live. It was such a privilege to work almost exclusively with a group of ladies for the first week and it coincided with me reading a very interesting book on women's confidence (The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman).
I really enjoyed this book for a number of reasons, but the main reason is that it has made me aware of differences between the way that men and women approach their jobs. I think the most important thing that it's made me aware of is that, women on the whole are much more risk averse and much less willing to jump into something that they have minimal skill/exposure/experience in. In other words, us ladies will only jump into the deep end when we've learnt how float and then how to swim, when we've learnt all the different swimming strokes and when we're sure that we need to be swimming free-style and not butterfly. On the opposite end of the scale, men on the whole are much more likely to jump into the deep end without any idea of how to swim, they'll somehow learn doggy paddle in order to keep their heads above water and then they'll improvise their style until they're swimming free-style with everyone else.
At this stage of my career and for so many other young, professional women out there, I think it's really important to know that often, in order to move to the next position, we don't need to know exactly how to do the job. Instead we need to be willing to jump into the deep end without knowing how to swim. We need to remember that we're not the only ones in the pool/dam/sea and that there are people and things out there that will help us to swim as we go along.
If you're interested in reading the Confidence Code, click here (it's worth the read, I promise!)
Finally, I hope that for the ladies out there who are wondering whether they're ready for that next role, this has inspired you to just go for it and dive into the deep end. And for the gents out there who are reading this - please keep in mind that you may need to give some extra encouragement to your girlfriends, wives, female friends or female colleagues to jump into that next role even though they don't feel quite ready for it.