How to be a Confident Woman in Corporate America

successful corporate woman

Joining a workforce which was established eons ago by men, of men, and for men. And this structure can be hard for us women to break into. Some women have done it and led the way for the rest. However, that does not mean its been any easier because of the few. It is still takes a lot just to prove your worth due to your gender. And while our world is moving towards being gender fluid in other narratives (thank the higher powers!), we are still a long way from being see as equal to our male counterparts.

To be a confident woman while also doing a good job takes the task to a whole other level. And since men run those places, you are up for a challenge. You are expected to hit the ground running, and do more than the average Joe. And don’t forget getting paid less than Joseph who sometimes hardly brings anything to the table.

That’s a story for another time, but let’s focus on how you can become a confident woman in corporate America. If you rather skip my sob story – scroll down to the heading “Take these Steps First”.

My Story in Corporate America

The Backstory

I joined the corporate world in the early 2000s. I started out as an analyst and not only did I have to learn on the job but I had to be faster and better than my male counterparts. If I’m being honest, I didn’t realize this until probably a few years ago. I always thought that the fight was against myself. That I was not good enough, that I was not doing enough, and that I wasn’t worth enough. I was not a confident woman until I learned a few things. Hmm, why does this ring on so many levels? Argh another story, for yet another time. Getting back…

The Issue

I became good at what I did and as the years went on, climbed a rung at a time but continued to lose to the other gender most times. It was the late 2000s that I almost gave up on being in corporate. I was constantly butting heads with my male manager who never trusted anything I did. I started having anxiety attacks and losing sleep (and hair) during that God-forsaken year. Without the option to quit I stuck with it, going to work in fear. I randomly read somewhere that I needed to manage my manager. If you’ve heard this term before, you now know it to be true. If you haven’t heard of it, learn it quickly.

My Resolution

I took a stand with my manager and used the literal words “you need to stop doubting me, and trust me” as part of our conversation. I don’t know what happened after this conversation, but he physically and energetically retreated. Over the next few days and months, I saw big shifts in him and in myself. I started voicing myself more and telling him directly when I thought he was wrong about something. I was direct but all the while being polite. After all, he was my manager and whether female or male, he had the right to let me go for insubordination. Tread lightly but firmly, ladies.

Now, that phrase is not a catch-all. I used it because it was necessary for my situation. It may not work for your situation, but what I’m saying here is that you need to stand up for yourself, because no one else will.

Take these Steps First:

1. The Internal Review

Firstly, take a good look at yourself and see if there is anything that you can improve about your work, your reactions, your demeanor. To be a confident woman, you need to do the internal work first. I say this because I had to change my reactions to my manager. I always came from a place of fear, so he reacted by instilling more fear in me. Address any issues that you have control over. You do this so people you work with cannot counter with an issue that you could have previously addressed. Take some time to do the internal cleaning first.

2. Find Your Circle of Trust

Reach out to your mentors, or close trusted friends to ask them if they see anything in you that you may not see. Take their advice and guidance (with a pinch of salt) and see what fits you. I am a big culprit of taking everyone else’s advice and doing everything anyone ever said. Sometimes it’s a hit, but mostly it’s a miss. This was because it wasn’t what I wanted for myself, it was what I thought I wanted because I believed someone knew what was best for me. Confusing? Basically, heed the advice of others, but make sure you do what you feel is right for you.


3. Know Your Worth

You, like everyone else on this planet is worth every bit of your salt. Do not sell yourself short because you think you may not have what it takes. Guess what? Everyone is winging it. Other than those people who are skilled laborers (read: doctors, scientists, and real engineers), most of everyone else is just playing enough of the game to stay in the game. Now, I’m not saying you need to fake anything. But realize that if you are doing everything in your moral power to be your best at what you signed up to do, then don’t sit back for anyone. You become a confident woman by first knowing your own worth. Read this article on how you can be a better friend to yourself and treat YOU right.

Related: How to Negotiate a Salary Offer

4. If He Can, So Can You!

Be firm but not arrogant. And know the difference. I have been called out for being arrogant in meetings or towards another coworker. That crap would tick me off. To self-evaluate, I would think of how a man would phrase what I said. And if I have heard a man say it before, and no one reacted negatively, you can bet your bottom that I would make that very point. I would call out the person calling me out, but politely. On the flip side, when I realized that they were right for calling me out, I would own up to it. I would take that lesson home and think about how I could have said it differently. This not only shows maturity but also that you are willing to be wrong. And only confidence allows both to exist.

5. I’m Sorry

Apologize. I have seen a lot of posts saying confident women do not apologize. That’s some real bleep. It shows a lot of maturity to own your mistakes and apologize. Not only should that make you feel good, it shows everyone else that you are a boss-woman. You can own your mistake and be okay with it. The key here is to apologize, restructure or rephrase, let go and move on. Strut your way to better days with your head held high.

In Conclusion

At the end of the day, if you are doing everything in your power to be your best, there is no reason to take any crap from anyone else regardless of gender. We know women can be just as bad as men, so while we want to be that confident woman in the workplace, I think we should just strive to be confident regardless of gender. Keep up the hustle and stay the course. Do what’s right and what you need to do. Don’t take crap from anyone – even your boss. No one is should be made to feel less than, or demeaned, just because they are earning from the company. That does not give the company any right to treat you like crap.

And if all else fails, stand if front of the mirror for a minute every day, with fists on your hip, your head angled upward and play some rocky balboa music for 60 seconds. Walk into work and see your day change.

What are the struggles you are going through that make you feel less confident?

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Article last updated September 10, 2021

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