29 May 2017
Mediocre man, aren't we all. Except of course politicians?
I can't really put my finger on the precise moment I embraced my own male mediocrity. It was more a dawning realisation.
Be it striding confidently onto stage to deliver a lecture with minimal preparation, having the sheer audacity to think I can pull off live TV or radio, or even sharing my thoughts with you here, its warm embrace is always with me.
In fact, I wear my mediocrity — or at least the confidence that comes with it — like armour. Most blokes do. It's almost a defining male characteristic.
And yet a growing body of research shows my masculine mettle is actually costing men, women and organisations dearly.
Thanks in large part to their brazen over-confidence, mediocre men are being promoted to senior roles — in science and other fields — ahead of vastly more qualified women, damaging productivity, research excellence and stunting everyone's performance as a result.
The good news, however, is that a reckoning is coming: evidence suggests the days of the mediocre man running the show are numbered.
Journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman have coined this measurable effect — that is, the notion that men are more self-assured than women — the confidence gap.
Success, they write in their book, The Confidence Code, "correlates just as closely with confidence as it does with competence".
In other words, confidence has somehow become a proxy for competence as a basis for success.
Indeed, numerous studies support their thesis. A 2011 study on The Emergence of Male Leadership in Competitive Environments found that men have a natural tendency to overrate their past performance on maths tasks by 30 per cent.
Ernesto Reuben, one of the study authors, almost apologetically described this behaviour as honest overconfidence
The attention being given to possible covert influence being exercised by China in Australia shouldn’t distract us from recognising that ...