Updated: Mar 3, 2019
In January this year, we saw some of the most incredible performances from our up and coming Australian athletes. Across three U24 teams, Australia secured two bronze medals and 4th place, our greatest performance across divisions ever at a Worlds Tournament.
I was lucky enough to be in Perth at the time, and was frothing like an overdone latte at the promise of playing alongside a lot of these players in the years to come. So, it disturbed me to learn this week, that only 44 people have put their name into the current AUL draft, and less than a third of the applicants are women. What’s happened?
To all the amazing women out there, or anyone lacking the confidence to put in an AUL draft application, it’s time to reconsider.
Last year, after representing Australia in my third campaign (Stingrays 2015, Firetails 2016, Crocs 2017), I learned that in 2016, I was one of the last picks for the Firetails. My initial reaction was embarrassment. I was the worst on the team. It made me reflect on my deficits as a player and instantly compare myself to others. That was my automatic response, my cognitive default: focussing on my weaknesses.
This problem has a strong gender dimension. Women tend to be less confident than men. Men tend to overestimate their performance by 30%* compared to women. In research done by Hewlett and Packard about why women were not applying for promotions, they found women applied when they deemed they met close to 100% of the selection criteria. Conversely, men applied when they met approximately 60%*.
Presenting oneself as an overtly confident, self-assured women carries social risks. These individuals are more likely to attract adjectives like ‘bossy’ and ‘arrogant’ relative to their male counterparts engaging in similar behaviours*. For ambitious women, it’s a daily tightrope walk: balancing our inner motivations with outward self-deprecation, so we don’t appear overconfident. This may be protective in the short term, but prevents us from pushing ourselves into vulnerable realms. It’s no wonder that the Stingrays U24 Women’s team this year instigated a rule: if you get a compliment, accept it with no question and no defences, otherwise, inchworms for you!
To be better players and people, we need to endure the realm of discomfort that is putting ourselves out there, knowing that we might fail sometimes or be viewed as foolish or overconfident. I love Gemma Coleman #24’s page for this reason, her outwardly unapologetic self-assurance is so refreshing! Telling people we want something is difficult, because they will know our failure if we don’t succeed. But hot darn, that pain is better that the pain of never knowing!
In Brene Brown’s “The Power of Vulnerability” she preaches, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” Let me tell you, I wouldn’t be writing this article as a 2017 Croc had I not put myself out there and simply given it a go.
I know it’s easier to apply for something if a senior player asks. You can tell yourself, “I’m doing this because they asked me, I know I’m not going to make it but I’m doing it for them!”
Well, here’s your invitation. I’m inviting you, I’m telling you, I think you’ve got what it takes. Don’t judge yourself, let the draft panel do that. You’ve got the easy job, just submit the darn application without a second thought. This risk will be worth it. Who knows, we may get to play together in a few short months!
Applications for the 2019 AUL Draft are open until midnight Sunday 10 March (AEDST).
*Statistics from The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman