Confidence Culture

Hosted by the Department of Media and Communications and City University's Gender and Sexualities (GSRC)

Online and in-person public event


Dr Katherine Angel

Dr Katherine Angel

Professor Pumla Dineo Gqola

Professor Pumla Dineo Gqola

Professor Rosalind Gill

Professor Rosalind Gill

Professor Shani Orgad

Professor Shani Orgad


Dr Rachel O'Neill

Dr Rachel O'Neill

To celebrate the publication of their new book Confidence Culture, Shani Orgad and Rosalind Gill discuss how imperatives directed at women to “love your body” and “believe in yourself” imply that psychological blocks hold women back rather than entrenched social injustices.

Interrogating the prominence of confidence in contemporary discourse about body image, workplace, relationships, motherhood, and international development, Orgad and Gill demonstrate how “confidence culture” demands of women near-constant introspection and vigilance in the service of self-improvement. They argue that while confidence messaging may feel good, it does not address structural and systemic oppression. Rather, confidence culture suggests that women—along with people of colour, the disabled, and other marginalized groups—are responsible for their own conditions. Rejecting confidence culture’s remaking of feminism along individualistic and neoliberal lines, Orgad and Gill explore alternative articulations of feminism that go beyond the confidence imperative.

Meet our speakers and chair

Katherine Angel is the author of Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again to critical acclaim and international coverage, Daddy Issues and Unmastered: A Book on Desire, Most Difficult to Tell. Katherine has a PhD in the history of psychiatry and sexuality (University of Cambridge). At Birkbeck, Katherine directs the MA in Creative and Critical Writing, and teaches in fiction, non-fiction, hybrid forms, as well as critical work relating to sexuality, feminism, gender, and psychoanalysis.

Pumla Dineo Gqola is Professor in Literature, with specific focus on African feminism, African literature, Race, Class and Gender, and Histories of Slavery. She is the Director for Centre for Women and Gender Studies in Nelson Mandela University. Pumla is the author of more than six single authored books, including her 2021 book Female Fear Factory and Rape: a South African Nightmare, the winner of the 2016 Sunday Times, Alan Paton Award.

Rosalind Gill is Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at City, University of London, where she co-directs the Gender and Sexualities Research Centre (GSRC). Rosalind is author and editor of numerous books including Confidence Culture, Gender and the Media, Mediated Intimacy, New Femininities: Postfeminism, Neoliberalism and Subjectivity and Gender and Creative Labour.

Shani Orgad is Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE. Her research interests and areas of teaching include gender, inequality, migration, and feminism in culture and media narratives. She is the author of numerous journal articles, blogs, reports, and five books including most recently Confidence Culture (with Rosalind Gill) and Heading Home: Motherhood, Work, and the Failed Promise of Equality.

Rachel O’Neill is Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE. Rachel is a feminist media and cultural studies scholar specialising in gender and sexuality. Her research centers questions of subjectivity and inequality, primarily in the contemporary UK context but with attention to transnational circulations of culture and capital.

More about this event

You can order the book, Confidence Culture (UK delivery only), from our official LSE Events independent book shop, Pages of Hackney

The Department of Media and Communications (@MediaLSE) is a world-leading centre for education and research in communication and media studies at the heart of LSE’s academic community in central London. The Department is ranked #1 in the UK and #3 globally in the field of media and communications (2021 QS World University Rankings).

The Gender and Sexualities Research Centre (@GSRC_City) at City University analyses how gender and sexuality intersect with other social divisions and identities in a rapidly changing world, fostering interdisciplinary dialogue, collaboration and research. It acts a hub, drawing together the wide-ranging research existing across the university on gender and sexualities, providing an intellectual base and fostering interdisciplinary dialogue, collaboration and research within City and beyond.

Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSEConfidenceCulture

Podcast & Video

A podcast of this event is available to download from Confidence Culture.

A video of this event is available to watch at Confidence Culture.

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