Campaigning is not succeeding. It’s asking for success, and for power. To campaign is to publicly claim that you are better than the others (usually white men) who want the same job, and that a whole lot of people should work to place you in a more powerful position. In other words, campaigning is a transgressive act for women.
Women often find self-promotion difficult even outside the realm of politics. For example, a 2011 study found that men are four times more likely to ask for raises than their female co-workers. Women are much more likely than men to under-estimate their abilities. When they apply for jobs, they often refuse to even submit a resume unless they’re certain they have 100% of the requisite qualifications. (The qualification threshold for men is only 60%. Think about that the next time you wonder why on Earth Donald Trump thinks he should be president–or, for that matter, when Bernie Sanders insists that his lack of foreign policy experience compared to Clinton’s doesn’t matter, because he has better “judgment.”)Articles on women’s workplace behavior are littered with tales of the “confidence gap” and “impostor syndrome”–that is, the recurring belief among high-achieving women that all of their achievements have been somehow accidental and are therefore undeserved. But the rare, lucky women who do manage to apply for higher-level jobs, advocate for fair wages, and feel good about themselves in the meantime may find that the “confidence gap” is less personal neurosis than sadly justified risk assessment. Women who put themselves forward in the same assertive, confident style as men are routinely found pushy, “bitchy,” or unlikable, and professionally penalized for that, too.
Sady Doyle on seeking power.