Adapted rom Chapter 7, The Bitch at Work: How Not to Get Promoted, from The Bitch in Your Head: How to Finally Squash Your Inner Critic, by Jacqueline Plumez, Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.

Why do women make less money than men?

There are many societal reasons, including lack of adequate childcare, but The Bitch in your head is to blame too. Here are three ways Bitchy thinking blocks success in the workplace:

1. Not asking for what you want.

Hard work is not enough. Being smart is not enough. If you don’t ask, you often don’t get. And The Bitch in your head makes many women afraid to ask for promotions, raises or bonuses. Why? See the next point.

2. Blaming yourself for failures and mistakes.

The Bitch might be whispering, “If you ask and get turned down, that would be terrible!” Research shows that when men experience failure or make mistakes, they tend to blame the situation or someone else, whereas women blame themselves. But when women are successful, they credit luck (“Oh, I was just lucky”) while men pat themselves on the back. This double whammy – no credit for success but lots of blame for failure, makes many women afraid to ask for what they want.

3. Replaying old family dramas at work.

People who grew up with critical parents often get stuck working for overly critical bosses. They don’t realize that the boss is being harsh: it just feels like home. So they waste their energy trying to please someone who is impossible to please rather than looking to move on. Likewise, someone who is always getting into arguments or involved with office politics, may have a Bitch in their head who encourages them to replay sibling rivalry issues with co-workers.

What to do

Gain confidence from a large study reported by The American Psychological Association showing that female managers are preferred over male because they are more communicative and empowering. Tell that to your Bitch if she tries to prevent you from going for a promotion or good new job. If you are unhappy at work, look to make a change. Leave your Bitch behind as you head off to new opportunities!