How often have you had a conversation with your friends and your female friends mention they feel like they are not feeling legitimate in what they are doing? That they feel like a fraud? Whether it be in the workplace, in their personal accomplishments or simply lives? Quite often, right?
And what about your male friends? Not as often, right?
This comes down to what is called imposter syndrome.
Imposter syndrome, what is it?
The term was coined in the late 70s by two female psychologists, who studied high-achieving women. Those women thought they were less deserving than their male counterparts and that they had fooled everyone. According to research conducted by KPMG in 2020, 75% of female executives from different industries have experienced it. And while females experience it in a lot of different aspect of their lives, 63% of men asked during the research conducted by Galaxy in 2023, admitted they only ever felt it at work, and 54% have never experienced it at all.
Where does it come from?
It has different sources that can vary from one person to the next. Some of the most commons are:
A lack of representation of women in executive roles pushes women that have all the skills and capabilities to doubt whether they are the right person for that position. The company Hewlett Packard conducted a study in house that found that women tend to only apply for jobs if they 100% fit the description whereas men will apply when they fit 60% of it. This really illustrates the difference in confidence men and women have in their capacities.
Social pressure for women to still be responsible for most tasks while working full time. 65% of women in different-sex relationships are responsible for taking care of the physical household chores, on top of often dealing with the cognitive ones (remembering birthdays etc…), according to gender expert Kate Mangino.
How can women combat it?
Finding support in the direct environment can be key, such as a mentor at work. They will remind their mentee that they are meant to be here, they are worthy of their position, and that nothing was left to chance. This relationship will help boost the morale up and help the mentee understand their worth.
Prioritising mental health. Whether it be by taking the time to breath with some exercises, or for example going to see a therapist.
But most importantly, taking the time to acknowledge all the accomplishments, the successes and such rather than focusing on failures, that might not even be seen as failures by others.