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Why Are Women More Reluctant to Apply?

15th December 2016

According to a Hewlett Packard internal report, men apply for jobs when they meet only 60% of the criteria needed, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them. Why do women feel that their track record is more important than their potential?



I've been there myself. A few years ago, a friend of mine sat in solidarity with me, looking on as I fervently dismissed every intriguing job ad I viewed with ''Sure why would they hire me? I can't do all of those things!!' 
My aide suggested that perhaps if my name were Fionn instead of Fiona, I’d have applied to everything.

The Confidence Gap

Why don’t women feel confident about applying for a job until they’ve checked off every item on the list, while men are confident at 60%? Historically, women have been strongly socialised to follow the rules, and have been rewarded for doing so. Men are, in general, more willing to break the rules, which has been shown to give off an impression of power. The study by Hewlett Packard revealed that women view required qualifications as exactly that: required qualifications, with their main reason for not applying being ‘not wanting to set themselves up for failure’. Men view requirements more as guidelines, feeling like they can sell their ability to do the job once they get in the door for an interview.

It was not too long ago that a degree was a woman’s only ticket into the professional world. Today, it is evident that women still overestimate the importance of formal training and the need to meet all requirements, underutilizing things such as advocacy, networking, & a creative approach.

It Happens

Do employers hold women to higher standards? Is there a bias that women need to meet more of the qualifications to be hired than do their male counterparts? It would be untrue to say that there is no disparity at all, even in our egalitarian society, with women frequently being held to different, if not more demanding standards.

A study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2012 presented 127 science professors with applications for the role of lab manager. The applications were identical in every way, except for the fact that half had a female name, while the other half had a male name. A small change, but the results found that it made a significant difference.

Overall, the female applicants were viewed as less competent, less employable, and less desirable to take on as a mentee. Even the female applicants who were deemed competent enough for the role were offered a salary that was on average 12% lower than those offered to their male counterparts. Remember that the applications were identical other than the name under which they had been submitted, which means that not only are women less likely to apply for a job without meeting all of the qualifications; they’re statistically less likely to get it if they do.

Break the Rules

The report carried out by Hewlett Packard speaks to a wider demographic. What needs to happen in order for women to feel less like they are wasting their time unless they tick all of the boxes?

It goes without saying that, whether male or female, a candidate’s potential and inherent quality should be given as much attention as their track record or experience. When it comes to serving your career (and life) goals, believing less in what appear to be the rules and more in your ability to do the job is essential.
Today, as I sit on the other side of the job ad, I most certainly know this to be true.

‘’Back yourself, believe in yourself. Don’t be afraid to take risks or make mistakes’’. Anne Heraty – C.E.O. Cpl Resources

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About the Author

Fiona Kiely

Recruitment Consultant

Cork

Fiona is a Commercial Recruitment Consultant, drawing on her Marketing, I.T., and Project Management background to source the very best talent for every role. Fiona prides herself on her long-term relationships and honest approach to her work, and continues to build her reputation for success with the Recruitment Industry in Ireland.

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