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Does Imposter Syndrome Hit Women More Than Men?

Imposter Syndrome: Does it Affect More Women than Men?

Imposter syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. In simpler words, it is the feeling that your success is because of luck and not because of your talent or qualifications. Anyone who isn’t able to internalise or ‘own’ their success would be a probable victim of the syndrome. Most people who experience these feelings don’t even recognise that there is a term for it.

Imposter Syndrome versus Reality: Graphically represented in a venn diagram

Are Women More Affected?

There is a lot of research that says women are more likely to suffer from this syndrome. While the women who coined the term believed that women were more susceptible because they produce less testosterone – the confidence hormone, there is also non-biological reasoning to back the theory. For instance, it is said that this tendency may be owing to the fact that one is more likely to experience imposter syndrome if we don't see many examples of people who look like us or share our background who are clearly succeeding in our field. This is of course, truer for women than men. And again, even truer for women of colour.

While everyone may experience this syndrome to a certain degree, according to Clare Josa, author of Ditching Imposter Syndrome and a leadership consultant, men are more likely to push through the feeling while women tend to give in to their self-doubt.

Why should we care?

Beyond the personal toll this takes on working women, we must care because the effects in the workplace, are more obvious to the eye than one would have imagined. Women are less likely to start a business or even speak up in a meeting because the syndrome often gets the better of them. The tech industry, already known for its large gender gap, has also largely spoken about how being outnumbered increases the impact of the syndrome for women already in or looking to enter the industry.

If you still need another reason, you must also care because men aren’t entirely spared from the syndrome either. Especially, young leaders, who lack perspective and often fall prey to the syndrome, internalising their failures and mistakes.

How to deal with it?

  1. Awareness: Educate yourself and others about the syndrome. Knowing you’re not isolated in your feelings can go a long way.

  2. Acceptance: Accept how you feel and recognise the triggers.

  3. Share/speak up: Try sharing your experience with someone so it doesn’t eat at you inside.

  4. Practice: Teach yourself to value constructive criticism and be open to more practice to get better.

  5. Unlearn and relearn: As with most things in life, unlearn the narrative you have been telling yourself and rewire your brain to be more confident. Most of all, be kind to yourself.

Have you experienced the feeling before? Share your story with us. Awareness and acceptance is half the battle won! Let’s #CollaborateNotCompete

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