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Personal Growth

The Startup That Pumps Inspiration Straight to Your Mobile Phone

Professional women are at a disadvantage due to what's called "the confidence gap," an idea popularized by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay. Shine is a new company that seeks to close that gap one text message at a time.

A new startup called Shine received a nice write-up on CNN Money a few days ago for its creative approach to the promotion of self-assurance. Its idea is simple. Women experience feelings of self-doubt about their careers at a higher rate than men. This self-assurance deficit is part of what is known as the “confidence gap.” To help bridge that gap, Shine curates and distributes motivational content to subscribers via text message. The goal is to combat feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt with short bursts of affirmation.

Silly? Maybe a little. Texts alone aren’t going to transform Eeyores into Tiggers overnight, but user testimonials indicate that Shine texts can be a healthy part of the affirmation diet. And when it comes to the professional world, every little bit helps.

The Confidence Gap

In 2014, author/journalists Claire Shipman and Katty Kay introduced “the confidence gap” in their book The Confidence Code, as well as in their landmark article for The Atlantic. The authors’ research on self-assurance in the professional setting led to a stark conclusion: Women suffer from a lack of authentic confidence, and that lack is a key component of what’s holding women back in the workforce. Shipman explained this idea last year in a series of interviews with Big Think:

The reasons why gender pay and achievement gaps exist are manifold. Confidence is only one piece of the puzzle, and the professional world is host to many established structures favoring male qualities and behavior. That said, research shows that women are less likely than men to negotiate starting salaries, ask for a raise, risk failure, or apply for jobs unless they’re 100 percent qualified. Whether confidence (or lack thereof) accounts for 10, 50, or 100 percent of those stats, it’s clear that women are generally not as comfortable as their male counterparts as it pertains to climbing the corporate ladder. 

One Text at a Time

This all leads to the big money question: How do you close the confidence gap? The easy answer is “broad, systemic change,” but we’ll sadly all be fossils by the time men and women are seen as equals throughout society. On a more focused, grassroots level, author Geri Stengel suggests there’s untapped power in women connecting and supporting one another through new networks.

That, more or less, is what Shine aspires to be: one small part of the new network of women advising and mentoring other women. For those who value inspiration and positive energy, something like Shine can be a major cog in their internal success machine. This includes men, who make up one in five of Shine’s user base.

Even if Shine turns out to be just a daily dose of the confidence placebo every morning, there are legs to the idea that the barriers keeping self-doubters from achieving can be chipped away little by little. Sometimes all it takes to turn failure into success is a fresh perspective and a little motivation.

Source: CNN Money

Photo: Martin Dimitrov / iStock


Robert Montenegro is a writer and dramaturg who regularly contributes to Big Think and Crooked Scoreboard. He lives in Washington DC and is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

Twitter: @Monteneggroll. Website:


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