The Facts about Imposter Syndrome

The Facts about Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome, something we are all too familiar with.

Have you ever felt inadequate? Suffered from self-doubt? Feared a question in meeting? Felt like you shouldn’t be in the room? Questioned why you even stepped on the career path you are on?

Then you’re not alone.

Many women (and men) experience the constant, nagging feeling they’re going to be unmasked as a fraud at any minute. Despite overwhelming evidence saying otherwise. It’s a phenomenon that blights most people – and it’s called Imposter Syndrome.

Welcome to Imposter Syndrome – the data

The term Imposter Syndrome came into my vocabulary over the last few years. Perhaps unsurprisingly since I started to progress up the career ladder. I started seeing articles in magazines and recommended reads on Linkedin. Then this year at the Best You Expo, people offering coaching for Imposter Syndrome and most recently a podcast/instagram page called The Imposters Club (find them on insta @theimpostersclub).

Psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes coined the “imposter syndrome” in 1978 when they were studying successful women who believed they were not worthy of their achievements. Their definition:

A feeling of “phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement.” These people also “live in fear of being ‘found out’ or exposed as frauds.”

  • The Independent study  stated it found a third of millennials experience self-doubt at work, with 40% of women saying they felt intimidated by senior people, compared to 22% of men asked.
  • According to HR news ‘Imposter Syndrome has impacted a whopping 62% of people at work, according to a report by Access Commercial Finance. The survey of over 3000 adults in the UK shows over two-thirds of women (66%) have suffered from imposter syndrome compared to over half of men (56%) within the last 12 months’.
  • The Telegraph reported that research showed that 28% of working women feel like imposter syndrome has stopped them speaking in a meeting. It also found 21% have been prevented from suggesting a new or alternative idea at work, and 26% have failed to change career or role.
  • In a WITI article, it stated that research eventually showed a majority of people (70%) will experience imposter syndrome at some point in life, often during transitional times.
  • In 2011, a study published in Human Relations questioned 60,000 full-time workers on their attitudes toward male versus female bosses. 72% of those who expressed a bias towards gender, wanted a male manager. (That was back in 2011!).
Even TRESemmé has a stat! (Via Boots Magazine)

In one of my most recent articles Please mind the (gender pay) gap I explored the well documented topic, of men being paid more than women. I refer to this, because I see a similar pattern. There does not seem to be an equal balance to the feelings towards Imposter Syndrome. With Women showing 10-20% higher results in feeling like a fraud then compared to men. Perhaps Human Relations has a point! Companies are very bias towards one gender, which could be impacting the behaviours and progression of women.

‘It is crucial to remember that women are not born feeling less-than. But if you are continually treated as though you are, you eventually internalise it. And this is not merely a synonym for low confidence – imposter syndrome is the logical outcome of a world that was never designed for women to be successful. It is time we stopped seeing the problem as being women’s refusal to believe in themselves and rather a world that actively refuses to believe in women’. *The Guardian Yomi Adegoke.

With the facts and figures of Imposter Syndrome explored, as a career coach I wanted to provide you with a some useful suggestions to help combat that feeling. That feeling of being a fraud.

6 Imposter Syndrome Hacks

  • Capture all your achievements and remember the positive results. A degree, a career change and/or running a 5K. Whether a photo around your house or on your desktop – make sure they are visible so you can see them.
  • Ask for feedback. Don’t be afraid to either. I like to ask for 360 feedback. It is a process where your manager, your peers and direct reports and sometimes even customers can evaluate you. Ask 3 simple questions – What should I start doing? (This will capture what you need to do) What should I stop doing? (This will give you something to work on) and What should I continue to do? (This is your positive feedback that you can save in your brag list).
  • Remember it is more than OK to ask questions, put your hand up and say ‘I don’t know’ – you are not expected to know everything.
  • Find ways to manage the Imposter Monster when it takes centre stage in your head. When you start hearing ‘You can’t’ find a way to turn that into a ‘CAN’.
  • Find allies both in work and in your friendship circles. When you start using self-doubting language ask your allies to use a code word like ‘pineapple’ 🍍 to bring you back in the room and capture the moment you started to doubt yourself? Perhaps at this point you may want to keep a diary so you can start to build any patterns and recognise any triggers.
  • Listen to podcasts, speak to friends, colleagues and family members about Imposter Syndrome. You will be surprised in how many people are willing to share their stories and you will truly realise you are not alone.

Do you have story of Imposter Syndrome? Have you been in combat with the fear of being found out? Or maybe you have suggestion on improving self doubt. Comment below your thoughts.


Would you like to explore more ways of beating the Imposter Syndrome dragon?

Working with me, as your career coach, we can build successful resilience methods to slay that dragon! I get it, I have encountered so many challenges within my career from lack of support or access to coaching, to bad company cultures with glass ceilings and, of course, the gender pay gap.  All leading, to me, once experiencing and suffering imposter syndrome with self-doubt… Yet have found and grasped opportunities to slay, shine and progress.

Book your free 30 minute Discovery Call with me to find out more:

“Pursue what makes you happy” | Interview with Saira Arif

“Pursue what makes you happy” | Interview with Saira Arif

I met Saira at the Technology for Good Think Tank Launch – As an ambassador I was helping with the set up and supporting the founder Sharon throughout the evening. Saira was a guest speaker, as part of her role at ORCHA.

ORCHA is the World’s leading health app evaluation and advisor organisation. The company help governments, health and social care organisations to choose and deliver health apps that will safely make the biggest impact in terms of improving outcomes.

As soon as Saira stepped up to the podium, I was immediately in awe of how she held the room as she talked through the slides on the important work ORCHA do to ensuring the health care apps are safe to be out in the public domain. As soon as the event was finished I made sure we swapped details, I knew I wanted to feature her on The Wonder Women in Tech….


Tell us about you…

My name is Saira, I come from a legal background, specialising in family law for a short while before starting my own Advocacy company which provided BAME community members with support accessing local services. However for the past 8 years, I worked for the NHS in Integrated Care and Digital Health. I currently work for a global leader in Digital Health to progress my interest in supporting the uptake of mobile apps for health and care. I have been a speaker and panellist at various health events, forums and roundtable discussions in Parliament, and was the winner of the SPIRIT 2020 Award following my Digital Pioneer Fellowship with DigitalHealth.London.

I am very passionate about social justice and was fortunate to have one of my NHS project’s recognised and awarded the NHS Parliamentary Award for London.

In my spare time, I am the Co Founder of Project DESI, which aims to digitally empower members of the BAME community through social inclusion.

I am also the Founder of Dollhaus London, a platform for empowering women from all walks of life through understanding pains and traumas and turning them into power and strength. Being a Mental Health First Aider has also really allowed me the opportunity to confidently help others where needed, and I find that platforms like Dollhaus London allow me to help others, be it indirectly perhaps.

Some of my core values include:

Self improvement – always learning and improving myself whether it’s general knowledge, or enhancing my skills in existing roles to actually learning something completely new! I am not the type of person who stays in one field forever, I believe we should try everything and anything we can in this life and if it makes us better people then we have found our calling!

Freedom – I feel that happiness comes from being free in my thinking and doing

Kindness and love – always be kind to others.

Honesty – I’d rather be honest and hated, than be loved and be deceitful!

Creativity and imagination – if we lose this, then life will be very boring indeed!

Do you think there is a lack of females in the sector that you are in?

I think in the growing years there has been an increase of women in the tech and digital health sector, and it’s amazing that I get to work in an organisation where the founder and CEO is a woman! Women leaders are still somewhat a minority though in various sectors. It has been nice to see that over the years, that women are starting to come into more leadership roles.

Do you find there is a stereotype that there are certain careers for men and women?

Yes it still exists- even when I worked as a lawyer, I always felt like I was never part of the boys club and felt like I had to work extra hard just to prove my efforts. Even in digital health and tech, the stereotype still somewhat exists, but I feel that as more women are starting to emerge as founders and CEOs, we will see a dynamic shift soon.

Are there barriers when it comes to women getting into more senior positions? If yes, why do you think this is?

Historically men have always outpaced women in leadership and senior positions across many sectors. Even the Fortune 500 companies, women hold only 19% of board seats and 15% of executive officer positions. Only 4% of women are CEOs at these companies! I believe there are different challenges and barriers women face when it comes to acquiring senior positions:

-structural barriers – non welcoming networks, professional clubs etc

– institutional mindsets – so your typical form of gender bias, and stereotyping

– individual mindsets – women may have thoughts that hold them back from getting involved or pursuing high ranked jobs

– lifestyle choices – work life balance, family choices that a woman may have to make.

What good advice would you give The Wonder Women in Tech?

My advice with anything would be to pursue what makes you happy, not what you are expected to do.


Thank you Saira for a brillant interview – If Saira inspired you, you can get in touch with her – by checking out her Instagram pages:
@iamsairaxo
@dollhauslondon
@projectdesii


Would you like to feature on The Wonder Women in Tech? Please get in touch, by using the contact page.