Impostor Syndrome- What is it Really?

The term Impostor Syndrome gets tossed around a lot these days.  I thought I’d share with you the origins of this concept, what it really means and how to gauge if you exhibit any Impostor Syndrome characteristics.

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The Origins of IP

IP (Impostor Phenomenon) was coined by Pauline Rose Clance, Ph. D in the late 70’s after she strangely experienced feeling like a fraud amongst her peer group in grad school, but couldn’t explain why.  She thought that she would fail exams even though she was well prepared, she felt other students around her were smarter than her and that she was passing her classes based on luck and was really just a “fraud” in school.

Later in life when she was teaching at a University, she realized that a lot of her female students had similar thoughts and feelings that she had when she was in grad school. Here she began her research on this topic and the originals of Impostor Phenomenon began.

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome or the imposter experience) is a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. Some studies suggest that impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achieving women.[2]

Psychologists hypothesis that Impostor Syndrome is most common among high achieving women.  Interestingly, many women experience it for the first time while in graduate school.  (A very intense and high stress experience.)

It’s not surprising that we see Impostor Syndrome among women at coding bootcamps since bootcamps are (in many ways) similar to graduate school.

  • The expectations are higher
  • The lessons move very quickly
  • There is a lot of work outside the classroom
  • You need deep focus & discipline to succeed
  • You get very little sleep
  • It’s a highly competitive environment.

Further research also shows that IP can be even more pervasive among women of color from marginalized populations. The research regarding Impostor Syndrome has traditionally highlighted groups who are “excelling in areas that were not always readily accessible to them”.[2]

This would certainly be applicable to women in tech.  (A culture dominated my males where female credibility can be tested on a constant basis.)  We hear stories of female software engines being the only female on their team, sometimes second guessed by their bosses, and even asked if a project was in fact “their own work”.   This is a high stakes environment where women are not always expected to necessarily succeed. Knowing more about IP and how it works can be helpful in understanding your own thoughts and views regarding your own success.

Here are a few sample questions from Dr. Clance’s  Impostor Phenomenon scale. 

  1. I have often succeeded on a test or task even though I was afraid that I would not do well before I undertook the task.

(not at all true)    (rarely)    (sometimes)   (often)   (very true)

  1. I can give the impression that I’m more competent than I really am.

(not at all true)    (rarely)    (sometimes)   (often)   (very true)

  1. I avoid evaluations if possible and have a dread of others evaluating me.

(not at all true)    (rarely)    (sometimes)   (often)   (very true)

*Sample questions may not be representative of the entire 20-item scale. To access FULL scale permission, please contact Dr. Clance (drpaulinerose@comcast.net).  

Continue reading

Dr. Carol talks Empowerment, Self-esteem and Women in Tech. 

Recent interview with UnknownDr. Carol where she talks about empowerment, self-esteem and women in tech.

https://soundcloud.com/breakingintostartups/59-dr-carol-langlois-how-self-esteem-empowerment-are-changing-the-ratio-through-hackbright

Teens Stealing Alcohol From Parents – And What You Can Do About It.

teens-party-alcohol

Did you know that teenage girls (more so than teenage boys) are likely to engage in underage drinking? The most recent data from the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) found that 66 percent of female high school students had “ever drunk alcohol” compared to 62 percent of male high school students.

Researchers aren’t entirely sure why teenage girls tend to drink more than boys. Some hypothesize that since girls typically reach puberty sooner, they “might” engage in risky behavior (like drinking) earlier as well. There’s also evidence to suggest that teenage girls are more susceptible to alcohol-related messages. For example, advertisers target girls with bright colored magazine ads showing beautiful models in amazing clothing drinking and glamorizing the use of alcohol.

What can you do about it? 

1. Lock It Up

Remember, teenagers find it easy to access alcohol when it’s readily available in their homes. Research has shown that two out of three teenagers say it is easy to get alcohol from their homes without their parents knowing about it. As a precautionary step, I’d suggest keeping your liquor cabinet locked.

Research has shown that two out of three teenagers say it is easy to get alcohol from their homes without their parents knowing about it.

Also, brain science can be helpful here. At 17, your daughter’s frontal lobe — which is the region that handles restraint — hasn’t fully formed. We now know the human brain does not finish developing until sometime in our 20s. If your daughter can’t yet make the right choice about alcohol, then locking the cabinet helps her by ensuring the alcohol is out of her easy reach.

2. Explain Your Concerns

I’d also recommend an extended, calm conversation about the severity of her actions. What if she or another teenager ended up in the hospital? Or in a car accident? Help her see the potential consequences to her actions.

To read more from this article, click HERE

Teens Stealing Alcohol from Parents, by Dr Carol  (Your Teen Magazine)