Interview with the Authors of The Confidence Code for Girls

 The Confidence Code interview

Authors Claire Shipman and Katty Kay have declared “2018 is the Year of of the Confident Girl,” and we couldn’t be more on board with this. And the tools to live confidently, specifically for middle school girls, are highlighted in their exciting new release The Confidence Code. 

Through this empowering guide they highlight how to be strong and confident through a series of real life stories, interactive quizzes, lists, quotes, warm-ups, puzzling questions, graphic novel strips, and more to help girls become bold, brave, and fearless. Additionally, they deal with several themes to help empower girls, such as how to embrace risk, how to deal with failure, how to know your brain, and how to take action.

Along with the book, they also released an exclusive poll on the state of confidence for girls with data showing how much confidence plummets for girls during puberty and the vast confidence gap between girls and boys.

We had the pleasure to interview Katty Kay and Claire Shipman where we learned more about the book and its mission. Read on for more and be sure to pick up a copy of this must-read book for the girls in your life.

Interview with Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, the authors of The Confidence Code for Girls

The Confidence Code for Girls interview

Weekend Jaunts: Tell us more about your background.

KK: I’m a TV journalist who lives in Washington. I’ve worked for the BBC most of my career in Africa, Japan, London and now the US. My day job is covering American politics, which is just a little busy these days, but my passion is working on ways to help women and girls succeed. I have four kids, one husband, 2 cats and a dog.

CS: I’m a TV reporter and writer who has lived in DC for almost 30 years now. (Yikes!) I’m originally from Ohio and got my start reporting in Moscow, which was really cool. ​Katty and I met in Washington more than ten years ago. We had a lot of conversations at work events and parties about how we wanted to try to do something different–but we were intimidated!! We weren’t confident. Then we just decided to go for it and write first one book, then another, and now this one. It’s been a blast working with a friend.

Weekend Jaunts: Why was it important for you to write this book?

KK: If we want confident women, we need to raise confident girls. There’s a direct link between women holding themselves back at work and habits they learn in middle school. I was shocked to find girls lose confidence from the age of 8, so we need to change that.

CS: We are passionate about girls, because we believe that confident girls mean confident women. When we realized that confidence typically drops at puberty, we thought, “What if we can help change that? What if we can at least make girls and their parents aware of what’s happening, and that they can change it themselves?” There were so many parents talking to us–as we gave talks around the country about our book The Confidence Code–about what was going on with their daughters. We felt like we could help make a difference for girls. ​

Weekend Jaunts: Tell us more about what girls can expect to find in the book.

KK: This book is really really fun! It’s full of quizzes, and lists and cartoons. There’s a lot of research here but it’s all written in a way that is enjoyable to read.

CS: Lots of cool quizzes and scenarios and ideas for how to learn to take risks and fail. We want girls to know that failing and doing things that aren’t easy is cool! We also have a lot of stories from real girls in the book, who talk about fear and failure and how they learned to be more confident. We think girls will relate. Our daughters helped us a lot, and they put us through the wringer!​

Weekend Jaunts: Why is being confident so important for girls?

KK: Girls are so talented, they are doing better in school than boys and yet, our research shows, they undervalue their abilities. That means they stop taking risks, become focused on being perfect and fail to fulfill their full potential. Confidence, as we found, is the stuff that turns thoughts to action – girls who take action can achieve so much more, and have so much more fun.

​CS: If girls don’t learn to assess their abilities correctly, they won’t be able to do it as women either. And it’s a bit harder to learn confidence as women, though we can, too, of course. We want girls to know that when they think they can’t do something, they are usually wrong. They are just under-confident. They aren’t being accurate in how they think about themselves. ​

Weekend Jaunts: Tell us more about your movement?

KK: We’re in a moment where everyone is focused on girls, girl power, #MeToo and  #TimesUp. We hope this book will launch a wider campaign about building confidence. We need to close the confidence gap between girls and boys so that girls can contribute their incredible talents to our communities. We need to hear their voices.

CS: We’re hoping to create a tribe of confident girls that might grow into an army. We want to help to train teachers and counselors, as well as parents, and we also want to create some online social media platforms that let girls test and show their confidence and some conferences that might bring girls together regularly to learn, share, and build confidence.

Weekend Jaunts: What can parents and caregivers do to help support girls?

KK: We all need to learn to encourage our girls to take risks and discourage them from trying to be perfect. In our super achievement- focused world that can be hard for parents, but it’s essential. By teaching our girls to be perfect and risk averse, we aren’t equipping them for the real world. We need to flip the model. But that means allowing them to struggle without stepping in at every step. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable, for both girls and their parents.

​CS: Help girls take risks and step outside their comfort zones. Let them know they need to focus on action, not some static picture of themselves online. ​

In addition to the book and poll, Shipman and Kay have kicked off a campaign with Instagram (@Instagram) and Good Morning America (@goodmorningamerica) to #CaptureConfidence in whatever form it takes and express your true confident self. Check out more about the campaign, here.

Pick up a copy of The Confidence Code for Girls at your local bookstore. 


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