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The Effect of Gender Roles on Self-Confidence

The feminist movement began to create its own terminology to understand the nature of gender inequality in the 1970s. In this process, masculine power relations were examined by taking the concept of “gender” as the center. With the increase of feminist studies, many new concepts have entered the literature. Among these concepts, “Gender confidence gap” was used to explain the self-confidence gap created by gender norms between men and women. Although it does not have a complete equivalent in Turkish yet, this concept relates the lack of self-confidence in women with their social oppression. Let’s take a closer look at the concept of “gender confidence gap”.

The idea that women are less self-confident than men first came to the agenda in 1978.


In 1978, Suzanne Imes and Pauline Rose Clance, in a study they conducted, introduced a phenomenon they called the imposter syndrome. According to the study, individuals suffering from this syndrome continued to see themselves inadequate even though they had achieved numerous successes throughout their lives. They thought they came to their position by chance, not by their own abilities. This increased the anxiety level of the individuals, resulting in their isolation from the social sphere. According to the interesting result of the study, women were mostly affected by this phenomenon. Some people claimed that this situation was biological and started to argue that there is a difference in self-confidence between men and men due to the “nature” of women. So can we really link these research results to the biology of women?

Self-confidence, which can be defined as an individual’s confidence in their own abilities and strength, is shaped by the combination of too many factors.


Family and society take the first place among these factors. The individual creates his personality by imitating the behavior of the people closest to him from the moment he was born. By teaching different roles to men and women, the society expects each individual to act according to their own gender within the social structure. In other words, the roles of femininity and masculinity are gained in the socialization process. For example, while the woman is expected to cook and take care of children, the man is expected to work and earn income for the house. Similarly, while women are expected to be emotional, kind, sensitive, patient and understanding, men are asked to create a strong, brave and tough personality. These roles do not change over time and lead to an internal acceptance of gender discrimination by being passed down from generation to generation. Therefore, girls acquire a passive and docile gender identity when they become adults. This negatively affects the self-confidence levels of women. Can we blame women who have been suppressed from the moment they are born for not developing self-confidence?

The fact that women are exposed to a masculine mentality in every field is seen as the main reason for lack of self-confidence.

gender confidence gap

A survey of 4000 participants in 2020 found that the majority of women underestimate their abilities. According to the study, although women are very successful in business life, they don’t like to say it. On the contrary, men tend to prove their talents in every field. Generally, the concept of success is seen as a situation specific to men. The reason for this is not the biological characteristics of women, but the fact that they are subjected to sexist oppression throughout their lives.

The feminist movement in Turkey has taken many signatures to work collectively to raise the self-esteem of women, though the concept of gender confidence gap in the social sphere is considered as an individual problem

gender confidence gap

Since the early 1990s, the pioneers of the feminist movement have taken the first steps in the struggle on this issue by creating a theoretical framework. Duygu Asena, Cute Monopoly names, such as Feraye Tınç and Sule Torun, Turkey’s new perspective in the social sector voiced the need to respect. Women’s self-confidence was tried to be increased by writing books, organizing conferences and awareness raising meetings.

However, the importance of individual psychology, not collective, in the social field was emphasized.

gender confidence gap

The pioneers of the feminist movement made it clear why women were less self-confident than men. According to them, there was a big structural and systemic problem. Therefore, the concept of gender confidence gap could not be viewed individually.

In order for women’s self-esteem to be at the same level as men, policy makers need to create an effective action plan.

gender confidence gap

Adopting a gender sensitive education approach could be the first step in this action plan. Apart from education, law and politics should be used effectively to ensure equality of men and women. The self-confidence problem brought about by gender inequality is possible by changing the traditional patriarchal power forms. There is no doubt that important gains will be made when policy makers address the issue in concrete steps. However, in order to solve the problem radically, women should come together and join forces against the masculine thought that has spread to every aspect of society.

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