Why are Women Afraid of Self-Promotion?

So many women have a problem self-promotion. Whether it’s on their CV, in interviews, meetings or just in our general day to day lives. It’s like we’re afraid to say “hey I did something cool”.

Why is that?

We want to be liked

The sad truth is we don’t want to be seen as a show-off and therefore unlikeable. Many studies have found that women are judged more harshly for voicing their accomplishments in the workplace. Here is the shocker though; we are judged most harshly by other women for self-promotion…that’s messed up!


From a young age, women are told that it is unattractive to brag or come across as arrogant while men are told the opposite. They are told that their accomplishments make them a better man. This means that women give off the impression of being full of themselves. As men can go around doing the same exact thing and it will be seen as a winning quality.

It makes us uncomfortable

Often the people you work for or with are too busy to notice when you’re doing great work. Which means you either have to inform them (awkward) or just assume that your results will be recognised. Which is a bit of a shot in the dark if you ask me.

We like to be team players

You’re probably thinking this is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if other people deserve the credit as well. However, I’ve been in a meeting where someone has been congratulated on a project (one that she had definitely not had any help with). Instead of owning it and saying thank you, she’s said the classic “it was a team effort really”. Meaning the praise for her hard work that she did alone is now diluted to include people who don’t deserve it.

So what’s the answer here?

Unfortunately, there is no straightforward one at the moment but my advice would be to make sure that the good work you do is visible. Send your boss weekly updates about what’s going on, on your end, they’ll be grateful for being kept in the loop and the proof of your hard work will be in their inbox. Think about other ways in which your talents can be an asset to your company. Then you can casually mention it to a superior or send them an email. Even if they don’t take you up on the offer the fact that you’ve been thinking of ways to help will go a long way in supporting your long term career.

Most of all, be proud of what you do and don’t feel ashamed for wanting to get a little praise for it. Self-promotion is essential for career growth so don’t shy away from it.


  1. K E Garland says:

    This is soooo true! When I was promoting my book, The Unhappy Wife (lol) I had a friend comment that she could never do as much promotion as I’d done because she would have to qualify her statements and she wouldn’t think that it was any good We have to move away from these types of social conditioning!

    1. herdigital says:

      We couldn’t agree more! We have start believing in ourselves and our achievements.

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