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Industry Spotlight > Women in Wealth

Irrational Underconfidence

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Katty Kay, the Washington, D.C., anchor for “BBC World News America” and one of the two authors of “The Confidence Code,” told us she had always felt that others were slightly smarter than she was. “Even though I went to Oxford and speak three languages fluently, I always believed I didn’t quite measure up.” Kay used to credit her remarkable career advancement in broadcast reporting to her English accent, which she believed made people think she was smarter than she was.

ABC News and “Good Morning, America” correspondent Claire Shipman, her co-author, also had confidence issues. “I think my perfectionism had gotten in my way,” she admitted. “For so long, I couldn’t look at anything I did and pat myself on the back. I was reporting in Moscow for CNN when I was in my 20s, but I wouldn’t take credit for that achievement. I would tell myself I was just lucky—I was in the right place at the right time.”

Women’s lack of confidence is no respecter of IQ, career success, experience or upbringing, as we ourselves can testify. How could psychotherapist Olivia Mellan, an honors graduate of a top women’s college who is now a nationally known money coach, speaker and Investment Advisor columnist, suffer from underconfidence? But Mellan told Kay and Shipman, “This book was tremendously evocative of my personal journey with confidence. Even though I feel extremely good about my work, when it comes to money and investing I still tell everyone I don’t know very much, even though my financial advisor friends and my husband repeatedly remind me that I know much more than I claim I do. I’m a perfect example of all you talk about.”

Financially savvy writer Sherry Christie, a Mount Holyoke honors graduate who counts some of the nation’s largest financial institutions among her clients, was unsurprised to learn she had “lower than average confidence,” according to a Confidence Code assessment. (“In general, you are more likely to feel uncertain of your opinions and of your abilities. You are probably quite risk-averse, and may be critical of what others would embrace for themselves as success.”)

How do you measure up? Try the interactive quiz at, part of a pioneering research study about women and confidence.


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