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Study: Utah Women Leaders Could Have Used Confidence Boost in Adolescence

A recent study by the Utah Women and Leadership Project has found that more than half of the women leaders surveyed said they had their greatest struggles with confidence during adolescence. The study results were released Monday.

Dr. Susan Madsen is a Professor of Leadership and Ethics at Utah Valley University and the director of the Utah Women and Leadership Project. She says it’s critical that girls understand early in life that failure actually allows growth and that it’s okay to fail.

“And so addressing and helping teachers, and councilors in schools and parents understand some of those things and why that happens biologically but also socialization-wise,” says Madsen, “then we can actually do things better as influencers to these girls.”

Madsen says they polled women who attended a UVU event last September titled “The Confidence Crisis for Girls and Women.” Nearly 96% of those surveyed said more needs to be done to help women increase their confidence levels at a young age.

“So I think that’s one of our issues in the state of Utah is that we have many women that don’t believe necessarily they are leaders, or need to be leaders, or can be leaders,” says Madsen.

She says while this project focused more on personal barriers within women, there are still plenty of external obstacles as well, including unconscious and hostile bias, workplace discrimination and organizational policies.  

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