Message from the Founder, What's New at Her Corner

The Confidence Gap for Women in Business

When I teach organizational behavior, I teach the concept of self-efficacy: your belief in your ability to succeed in a specific situation or accomplish a specific task. Your sense of self-efficacy can play a major role when it comes to achieving big goals, like successfully building a business.

I have seen the confidence gap in the female college students that I teach, but so help me, I hadn’t seen it so blatantly in-my-face as when I returned for my college reunion a few weeks ago.

I caught up with old friends and heard again and again about the companies that these women had gone off and started. Some were architects, consultants, corporate trainers and leadership coaches. Many of them wanted to talk about how they could grow their companies.

And then I talked to the guys – the ones who were now also running their own companies. In contrast to the women, these companies were much larger. Some of these companies had revenues in the hundreds of millions (I know, because they all wanted to tell me how big they were… shocker).

So here I was scratching my head. I was actually watching the impact of low self-efficacy in action. And you know what it takes to have higher self-efficacy? Not smarts.

It’s something else.

I knew for a fact that the guys weren’t any smarter than the women. I know not only because I was in class with many of these men and women, but also because when I teach at American University, I know the grades of my students. The grades are generally about the same between genders, if not somewhat better for women (at least in the classes I teach).

What contributes to greater self-efficacy and would give women the belief in their ability to succeed is a combination of two things: One is access to role models who could show them what running a successful, growing company could look like (while also raising a family, for example). The other is stronger confidence in their abilities, whether it’s by learning how to build a bigger business or increasing confidence in themselves.

The guys did not have access to learning special skills in college that put them ahead of the women. They were history majors, English majors, political science majors. Sure some of them went on to graduate school, and a few to business school, but we all know that they don’t teach small business in business school.

So what was the difference? What do men naturally have that allows them to persevere and succeed in small business?

Confidence.

They have enough self-efficacy that they genuinely believe they can successfully build a business. And while self-efficacy generally comes from social, cognitive, and professional experiences, it also comes from education.

Shouldn’t we be focusing our entrepreneurship and innovation classes and programs on how to build a scalable and sustainable business AND teach the nuts and bolts of building and growing it – perhaps without ever raising capital or turning it into a billion dollar company?

Because if we did, I believe that the percentage of women who graduate from college confident that they could build a business if/when they ever want to would go up. And we would see a new demographic of women business owners in the future. And when they go to their 20th college reunion, they would see a lot more women, not just men, running large and successful small businesses – and maybe even public corporations.


Frederique is the founder and CEO of Her Corner, a global peer-group community of women business owners committed to growth in their businesses. Her Corner applies a systematic, process-based approach that includes business-driven agendas, carefully selected facilitators, and metrics-focused growth measures in order to give women the springboard they need to move forward.

Her Corner is Frederique’s fourth business that grew out of a personal need for access to other motivated and ambitious women business owners with whom she could collaborate in order to accelerate growth in their businesses.

When Frederique is not managing the business operations of Her Corner, she can be found either running accelerator programs for Her Corner members or at the Kogod School of Business at American University where she teaches entrepreneurship, business management and organizational behavior.

Frederique holds an MBA from the Mason School of Business at the College of William and Mary and a BA in International and Russian Studies from Davidson College. She is a dual citizen of the United States and European Union, is fluent in English, French, and Spanish, and conversant in Russian and Italian.

Frederique is the founder and CEO of Her Corner, a global peer-group community of women business owners committed to growth in their businesses. Her Corner applies a systematic, process-based approach that includes business-driven agendas, carefully selected facilitators, and metrics-focused growth measures in order to give women the springboard they need to move forward.

Her Corner is Frederique’s fourth business that grew out of a personal need for access to other motivated and ambitious women business owners with whom she could collaborate in order to accelerate growth in their businesses.

When Frederique is not managing the business operations of Her Corner, she can be found either running accelerator programs for Her Corner members or at the Kogod School of Business at American University where she teaches entrepreneurship, business management and organizational behavior.

Frederique holds an MBA from the Mason School of Business at the College of William and Mary and a BA in International and Russian Studies from Davidson College. She is a dual citizen of the United States and European Union, is fluent in English, French, and Spanish, and conversant in Russian and Italian. – See more at: https://hercorner.org/blog/time-to-change-your-inner-dialogue#sthash.7sFm6PJr.dpuf

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