If you’re a woman, chances are you’ve experienced imposter syndrome. While not unique to women (men get it too), being a woman puts you at a slightly higher risk of experiencing the bane that is imposter syndrome. Although, it’s possible men aren’t vocal about their experiences because of social expectations around ‘masculinity,’ perhaps skewing the percentages. Even so, imposter syndrome impacts a lot of women, so let’s dive in.
What is imposter syndrome? If you’re plagued with self-doubt and feelings of incompetence, despite evidence pointing to the opposite, you probably have Imposter Syndrome. A lot of the time, people struggling with imposter syndrome believe they are frauds, especially within the workplace. Even when complemented or praised for their efforts and successes, someone struggling with Imposter Syndrome believes that they’ve fooled those around them – tricked them into thinking they’re competent. And God forbid someone finds out!
A study revealed that a third of millennials suffer from imposter syndrome in the workplace, with a whopping 40% of millennial women claiming they feel intimidated by senior members of staff. And that’s not all… research shows that 60 percent of women who have considered starting a business did not, thanks to their lack of confidence.
Imposter syndrome can affect women on smaller scales too, keeping them zipped up during meetings though they’re bursting with ideas. Women are sparring with feelings of inadequacy and this is stopping them for striving for those larger roles at work,
Now, hold on, I hear you say. This isn’t about confidence. Women don’t hold positions of power because of the blasted patriarchy, remember? Don’t worry. I’m not suggesting the patriarchal system is a thing of fiction (never!). However, imposter syndrome can and does prevent women from aiming for higher positions that are available to them. In fact, as expected, the patriarchy does share part of the blame. Imposter Syndrome was first discussed by Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes, who believed it may exist in women because of the internalization of gender stereotypes about women’s incompetence.
White male-dominated workplaces do not help alleviate the problem. We know how ‘normal’ it is for only a few women or people of color to occupy an office. How does it feel to be in the minority? Well, it feels like you don’t belong! And that leads to… imposter alert! People of color are particularly susceptible to feeling like frauds at work. A fourth-year PsyD candidate said, ‘I was taught I would need to work twice as hard to be half as good’ because of his African-American background. He notes how this leaves him feeling as though his efforts will never be enough.
Imposter syndrome is rampant. What can we do about it?
Because it is so common, speaking to a mentor can really help. And if you’re struggling with imposter syndrome, you probably cannot see your successes for what they are – proof of your capabilities! Your head wants to tell you they were flukes, sheer luck… But this is what imposter syndrome does. The sooner you can point at the beast and name it, the easier it is to see past it.
Tips for dealing with imposter syndrome
- Ask for help! Imposter syndrome likes to lure you into believing that you should know all the answers. But who does? If you don’t know something, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Accept that nobody can know it all. Instead of feeling shame because you have a gap in your knowledge, take it as an exciting opportunity to grow!
- Everyone feels stupid or out of their depth sometimes. You are human, and it’s OK. You’re going to have these moments.
- Focus on where you’re doing well and are confident. Recognize what you’re good at. Nobody can be great at everything, but we’re all good at something
- Talk to your friends about it. The truth is so many people experience it. Even ridiculously successful women experience it. You know Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg? She does.
If you’ve been struggling with imposter syndrome, hopefully, this article helps you name this confidence leech and discover that those beliefs about you being a fraud just aren’t true!
The more open we are as women about our experiences with imposter syndrome, the more we can help other women uncover theirs. Women struggle with feelings of unworthiness because of imposter syndrome which then has an impact on how we show up in the world.
And guess what? Women are meant to show up.