I have no problem speaking in public. I often say this is because my dad is a pastor and as long as I can remember has been speaking in front of people, so it seems very normal to me. Public speaking has never made me nervous, but I have always known that being confident is as important (maybe more important?) than what I’m saying.

I don’t speak a lot in class unless I think I have something valuable to add, but I’ve been noticing recently in class that women frequently (certainly more than men) start comments or questions or thoughts in class with “I don’t know if this is what you’re looking for” or “maybe I’m not understanding things right” or “this is just my opinion” or any number of phrases that show lack of confidence. I’ve noticed that men in my classes rarely start comments this way. It reminds me of this video I watched recently:

When do women gain the confidence to make comments without showing doubt? These are strong, smart women. We’re graduate students at one of the best international affairs schools in the world. I understand lack of confidence in grad school. I often think one of the purposes of grad school is to break us down and teach us that we don’t know anything. At least some of the time. But I don’t think these comments stem from that. I think they are more directly and immediately the effects of women being acculturated to not speak up, not to question. As women, it is our responsibility to show confidence and strength so that future women won’t start questions with “I’m sorry.”