Four Internal Barriers Holding You Back

What holds women back from reaching positions of higher leadership? We’re still grappling with the answer.

There are, of course, external barriers – but, what about those internalized?

We may not be able to regulate the prejudices of others, but internal barriers are well within our control. Here are four of them – and what we can do about it.

Imposter syndrome
“Imposter syndrome” makes us feel our success is luck, or like frauds. Fact is, you earned your job and your title. Act like you belong there.

Aimless ambition
The ambition gap results from not really knowing what we want from our careers and therefore seeming less ambitious than men. Decide what you want to do and focus.

A recent Catalyst study of MBA students found women were paid $4,600 less than their male counterparts for their first post-MBA job, and only seven percent had negotiated for their salaries compared to 57 percent of the men.

That’s quite a discrepancy. It’s also an internal barrier. We can’t be afraid to ask for what we want.

Risk aversion
Studies show women are more likely to avoid risk – likely due to how we are nurtured from an early age. Interestingly, studies also show that women tend to believe their failure is due to lack of ability; while men blame it on their own lack of interest.

Reward doesn’t come without risk. Fear of failure only stifles career growth. We have to quiet the internal voice telling us not to go for it.

Bonus PINK Link: Want to negotiate like a man? Here’s how.

Have internal barriers held you back?

By Erin Wolf

Erin is a Managing Partner at SuiteTrack LLC and Director of Coles College of Business Women’s Leadership Center.

“Luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity.” Gail Evans

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