As gender equality continues to be an issue in the workplace, a female aversion to risk is often cited as a factor for lower salaries and an absence in the boardroom.
Why are women more risk averse than men? According to a recent study by the National Citizen Service, it starts from an early age. They surveyed 1,000 12 to 18 year olds and found 40% of the girls were afraid of taking risks, compared to 27% of the boys.
And sadly this trend continues into adulthood and their careers. In 2011, the Institute of Leadership and Management asked British managers about their career progression. It found men initiate salary negotiations four times as often as women do. When women do negotiate, they ask for 30% less than their male counterparts.
So what can we do to make women feel braver? The answer is simple. We all need to take more risks. As with the emergency oxygen masks in a plane, you need to secure yours before helping someone else. Lead by example and your risk-taking will bring you confidence while inspiring others to follow suit.
As such, here are three risks you can take this summer to empower you and your peers.
1. Approach a stranger
I’m not necessarily advocating cornering a stranger in the street but confidently approaching someone at a nertworking event or even in the supermarket can be incredibly empowering. Walking up to a complete stranger seems daunting but remember, they probably get just as nervous speaking to new people. And you never know what may come of it - your career could flourish from a chance encounter.
2. Apply for that role
Toying with the idea of putting in an application for your dream job? But haven’t because you don’t tick every single one of the job description criteria? Apply anyway. If you’re passionate about the company or the industry, that’s often more important than a few gaps in your skillset. You’ll learn the technical stuff on the job – but you can’t be taught to love it.
3. Just ask
If you want something, make sure people know. They can’t read your mind. Whether it’s a pay rise for your part time job or a clean table in Pizza Express, if you don’t ask you don’t get. Forget the misconception that you’re being demanding - be polite and explain your rationale clearly, and be graceful if the answer is no. What's the worst that can happen?