Definition The psychological experience of believingthat one’s accomplishments came aboutnot through genuine ability, but as a resultof having been lucky, having workedharder than others, or havingmanipulated other people’s impressions,has been labeled the impostorphenomenon
“I’m a fraud, they’re onto me!” -TinaFey, popular actress and awards host“They must be speaking directly to me…” -Sherly Sandberg, Facebook COO andauthor of “Lean in” while attending Harvardspeech on “Feeling Like a Fraud”“I’m always looking over myshoulder, wondering if I measure up.” –Sonia Sotmayor while attending Princeton
The Imposter Syndrome Term was keyed in 1978 by psychologistPauline Clance and Suzanne Imes . Valerie Young, Ed.D, author of “The SecretThoughts of Successful Women” says littlehas changed in three decades since. Even more susceptible now that ever.
Symptoms Faking it Imposter Was just lucky Can’t internalize successes High levels of self-doubt Deep level of inauthenticity Just fooling everyone Fear of exposure
Keep in Mind- It is not perceived to be a psychologicaldisorder among people, but it has beenthe topic of research for manypsychologists. Evidence gathered from research doesnot support the idea that this syndrome isa distinct personality trait, but certainpeople are more prone to impostorfeelings.
Gender Differences Boys are taught to bluff and exaggerate Girls are taught to not trust their opinionsand stifle their voices. How does this impact the growth patter ofself-esteem?
Susan Pinker Author of “The Sexual Paradox, the RealGender Gap” Discusses the fraudsyndrome:“…it is purely limited to successful women;successful men apparently never feel likethey are frauds.
Costs to Companies"The cost to their companies in terms ofunrealized human potential can beenormous. … When qualified workers fearrisks, get caught in the expert trap and areprone to perfectionism and procrastination,theres a leak in the corporations humanresources pool.
Career Choice Impacts In male-dominated fields women aremore vulnerable to feeling like frauds. Often women in technical fields specializelater-on in their lives in their field of choice. Work allowed to spill less into personal life. May be only woman on team.“I must have fooled them..”
The Gender Gap Males are more likely to blame outsideinfluences where women are more likelyto blame themselves. Women, when surveyed, believed thattheir performance directly reflects on theirfemale peers. Women believed their were beingwatched more closely on performancethan men did.
Biggest Impact Its not discrimination, but…Stereotyping, which is evidentfrom both genders and not just from olderage groups.
Cumulative Effect Holding Back Over working Giving up Procrastinating Taking criticism too personally Qualifying contributions
Perfect Matches? The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitivebias in which unskilled individuals sufferfrom illusory superiority, mistakenly ratingtheir ability much higher than average.This bias is attributed to a metacognitiveinability of the unskilled to recognize theirmistakes.
Theories Special Minority Programs may add tofeelings of inadequacy- “I was only hiredbecause I was black/female/etc.”instead of recognizing that the personwas hired for their skills.
Never Let Them See YouSweat Or make a mistake. Or be less than in your best condition. Or perform less than perfect. Or take the best path in life. Or accomplish twice as much as anyoneelse in ½ the time….
Small Talk "This may not be right, but…" “I don’t know if I should add this, but” "Anyone could have done it" “I didn’t provide much.“ “I’m sure you can find someone morequalified than me.”
Worry, Worry and Worry dismissive attitude when praised . feeling that peers with the sameresponsibilities are more capable. reluctance to accept new responsibilitiesor challenges for fear of failure . difficult reaction to constructive criticism. worrying that others will begin to realizetheir shortcomings.
Recognition Your contributions matter. Your skills are important. It’s alright to make mistakes- theimportance is to learn from them. Surround yourself with supportiveindividuals. Stop asking for permission.
Ways of Addressing Taking risks or completing tasks that areundesirable can help address fear offailure. Ask oneself directly what in the past orchildhood may make one feelinadequate. Its not a mistake the first time, it’sexperience.
When it happens… When having a direct comparison, lookhonestly at your accomplishments andestablish if you aren’t acknowledging yourown. Actively recognize and avoid negative ordestructive thoughts, (imposter syndrome). Recognize negativity in others that mayimpact your ability to see your contributions.
How to Stop it… Chalk it up to a lessons learned, (not amistake..) Be kinder to yourself. We are our worstcritics. Seek Support from mentors and othersthat can offer you an honest view. Visualize your success!
Final Thought… “ A successful man is one who can lay afirm foundation with the bricks that othersthrow at him. ”— Sidney GreenbergWomen need to recognize this more…