Studies have shown that typically, females tend to advocate for themselves less than males, particularly in work environments. There are many socially caused reasons for this, primarily that gender stereotypes create expectations for female behavior, which children, students, and young adults internalize as markers of their self-worth. What can be done about this perpetuated gap? The answer lies in self-advocacy and, as always, allyship.
In school and jobs, a helpful way to start practicing self-advocacy is to acknowledge the work you do; do not undersell yourself, and really consider your strengths and potential. If it is difficult for you to advocate in groups, start in smaller environments and work up. Additionally, consider trying out things you can grow in; you do not have to wait to become proficient in an area to apply or try out. Lastly, I would like to acknowledge that there are many ways to advocate for oneself; vocally advocating comes easier to some more than others, and that is okay. Find and practice a way of advocating that plays to your strengths.
An integral part of self-advocacy is finding support and allies. It can be especially draining to advocate if we have been fed subliminal messages that undermine our self-worth. Additionally, while society is always improving, gender stereotypes still psychologically affect individual’s perceptions of and responses to women. To fight against this requires extra work and courage; that is why it is important to find allies who can support and advocate for you as well. Remember, you do not have to do it all on your own, and our greatest strength lies in supporting each other.