Tuesday, April 7, 2015

F is for Failure

The last few weeks I've been working on writing our company's new gender policy and as such, I've been doing a lot of reading about gender equality and initiatives similar businesses have made to address the under-representation of women in some areas of the film industry.

One of the more interesting things I came across was an article about how women deal differently with failure and self-expectation than men.  Women generally won't apply for jobs unless they feel they're 100% qualified or fit all the criteria asked for.  Men assume they can do it and apply anyway.  Women rarely ask for pay rises, and when they do, they ask for far less than men do.  Women often won't attempt a task unless they're certain they can do it.

Does this mean women set themselves up to fail?  Or are they just more cautious?  Is it because girls are told as children that being 'good' is more important than challenging themselves?

I don't have any answers.  But I found the statistics about failure interesting.  My sister doesn't deal with failure at all.  She failed one test back when she was about nine and hated it so much, she basically resolved never to fail again.  I feel like all her decisions from there on were based on whether she'd fail. She chose a sport very few people do so she could be among the best at it (she was).  She chose subjects at school she knew she would excel at.

I've never had a problem with failure.  I don't like it, of course.  Who does?  But I recognize that often you learn as much from failing as you do from being successful.  And being able to deal with failure means you're more likely to challenge yourself and push yourself out of your comfort zone.  And putting your heart and soul into a manuscript and then sending it off for a bunch of strangers to read and reject is definitely a challenge.

So while I wrote six or seven novels and queried them without success, I don't consider any of those books a failure.  An embarrassment in some cases, maybe, but never a failure…

How do you deal with failure?


  1. Not dealing too well with it this week, but I'll try harder after reading this post. Thanks, Kate.

  2. I'm more like your sister when it comes to failure. It's just really hard to deal with...

  3. I am definitely a try, try again kind of gal.
    Did you read the flip side of that study on applications, in that women aren't given the job if they don't already have the experience, but men are just assumed to be able to grow into positions? I've wondered if our tendency to only put in for things we know we can already do has something to do with that...
    ~AJ Lauer
    an A-Z Cohost
    @ayjaylauer on Twitter

  4. What an interesting post! Definitely gives us something to think about. I don't mind failure. I don't love it- but I have always felt I learned from it (query rejections) or already knew that it was an area I struggled with (math). Usually time helps me deal with it better. :)

  5. That's interesting about some of those female stats... maybe females are more pragmatic?

  6. I deal with failure by keeping going. For example I will forever be a failure at sport - my ankles do not work properly so I'm basically terrible at all things that involve running or jumping, but I've never let that stop me enjoying playing.
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