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The Power of Self Efficacy for Women in Technology

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21528099_sAre you familiar with the term “self-efficacy?” Self efficacy is more than just confidence or self esteem; but refers to your belief to be successful. It is defined as follows:

Selfefficacy reflects confidence in the ability to exert control over one’s own motivation, behavior, and social environment.

When a woman in technology, or frankly in any industry, has self efficacy it can help motivate her in through situations where her confidence might be undermined by the corporate culture or individual management styles.

The number of women in technology leaving the field mid-career is astronomical; a phenomenon that company leaders are just beginning to come aware. When interviewed as to their motivation for leaving the most common reason is the belief that they are not valued, do not feel like they can be successful or in some other way feel left out of the company culture.

However, when looking deeper into the women leaders who persevere, we find a trend towards self efficacy. Women who don’t solely rely on the support or encouragement from those around them to feel successful but rather are capable of digging deeper and believing in their own ability to succeed.

The good news is that, although some are born with self efficacy, it is a trait that can be nurtured and taught.

Psychology contributor Psychology Expert explores self efficacy in her article: Self Efficacy: What is Self Efficacy? She shares that it is most often developed at a young age, however, learning the behavior does not stop once you reach adulthood. Kendra shares information gathered from psychologist Albert Bandura:
According to Bandura, there are four major sources of self-efficacy.

1. Mastery Experiences

“The most effective way of developing a strong sense of efficacy is through mastery experiences,” Bandura explained. Performing a task successfully strengthens our sense of self-efficacy. However, failing to adequately deal with a task or challenge can undermine and weaken self-efficacy.

2. Social Modeling

Witnessing other people successfully completing a task is another important source of self-efficacy. According to Bandura, “Seeing people similar to oneself succeed by sustained effort raises observers’ beliefs that they too possess the capabilities master comparable activities to succeed.”

3. Social Persuasion

Bandura also asserted that people could be persuaded to believe that they have the skills and capabilities to succeed. Consider a time when someone said something positive and encouraging that helped you achieve a goal. Getting verbal encouragement from others helps people overcome self-doubt and instead focus on giving their best effort to the task at hand.

4. Psychological Responses

Our own responses and emotional reactions to situations also play an important role in self-efficacy. Moods, emotional states, physical reactions, and stress levels can all impact how a person feels about their personal abilities in a particular situation. A person who becomes extremely nervous before speaking in public may develop a weak sense of self-efficacy in these situations.

Albert Bandura is recognized as the Father of self-efficacy and is quoted and referred to in a number of articles:

4 Ways to Improve Self Efficacy

4 Ways to Develop Self Efficacy Beliefs

The Sway of Self Efficacy

Each article is written by a different author and published on a variety of sites but all site Bandura’s research and each also offer the good news that self efficacy can be taught.

They all also recognize that reality offers those days when we question our abilities:

Accept Self-Doubt…but Put it in its Place Managing your self-doubt is just one more way to keep “I think I can’t” thoughts from derailing your success. When self-defeating thoughts bubble up, accept them as part of the process and move on. These types of thoughts don’t necessarily reflect your true capabilities. The key is to not let them stop you from moving forward.

The point is that although having role models, mentors and fans are an excellent way of developing confidence and a belief that you can be successful even in a world dominated by men; when the going gets really tough you have to dig down deep and find your own inner strength and motivation to succeed.

Past performance is an indicator of future success.  Think back on the hurdles you have overcome in the past. This is especially important for women in technology who have often been the only female in class, on projects and in the workplace for most of their career. You have overcome and you will succeed again.

Following is an incredible video about a young girl who was diagnosed with MS and yet still wanted to be a runner. This is a woman who has real  health challenges that literally keep her from being successful and yet she finds a way. Be amazed by her story and those around her, especially her coach, who help her overcome the odds and go on to be State Champ and the fastest running female in North Carolina.

In The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels, Michael Watkins writes about how to build your foundation for self-efficacy. He starts with 3 Pillars:

How can you create virtuous cycles that build momentum? How do you avoid vicious cycles that sap your strength? You build a foundation for self-efficacy. Your build your foundation with three pillars.

  • Pillar 1: Adopting Success Strategies.
  • Pillar 2: Enforcing Personal Disciplines.
  • Pillar 3: Building Your Support System.

You can do it!
JJ DiGeronimo JJ DiGeronimo, a speaker, author and thought-leader for Women in Tech and Girls and STEM, empowers professional women and consults with senior executives on strategies to retain and attract Women in Technology to increase thought and leadership diversity within organizations.

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