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Women who fail to achieve career goals are often blamed on a lack of self-confidence. Women who demonstrate high levels of confidence through behaviors such as being assertive are at risk of being perceived as lacking confidence. Women are blamed for their lack of career progression regardless of the outcome. This can lead to women beating themselves up, which can weaken their self-esteem and lead to a downward spiral.

Women are often told to demonstrate self-confidence in order to progress their careers, raise their pay, and become more successful at work. Women are encouraged to "lean in" to reach their goals, "stand their ground", make strong eye contact, and to "fake it till they make it." Women have to balance on a knife edge in order to remain warm and likeable.