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.

Unknown

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

Girl Talk: Teen Monologue Series Coming to SF Aug 24th

My play “Girl Talk” is in a playwright festival honoring female playwrights this summer teenage girl Sharing Secret With Friend In Parkin SF.

Young actors perform powerful teen stories about real life struggles, peer pressure, anxieties and how they survived.  Dr. Carol Langlois created this play version of her acclaimed book, Girl Talk: Boys, Bullies and Body Image. Teenagers and their parents are especially invited!

Information
Date: August 24th, 2017
Time: 7:30pm
Location: “Thick House” is now “Potrero Stage”

Tickets: FREE through the festival.Hope to see you August 24th!  Reserve your FREE tickets today! Click Here.

For more information about Dr. Carol & Girl Talk, click here.

Teaching Your Child To Learn From Failure: 4 Steps To Success

Guest blog by: Rebecca Temsen (http://www.selfdevelopmentsecrets.com)

The old adage holds true: We learn from our mistakes. Making mistakes is especially how childrenteengirl learn. Unfortunately, too many kids (and even some adults) have never learned the value of making a mistake. I plead guilty too.

Too many fail to realize successful people find new routes to their goals and they don’t let setbacks derail them. Succeeding ultimately depends on sticking with their efforts and not letting setbacks hold them down, especially with kids.

Here are some tips for helping children recognize that mistakes don’t necessarily mean failure but instead can be learning opportunities in disguise.

  1. Stress that it’s okay to make mistakes

The very first step is helping kids realize that mistakes aren’t the end of the world is to simply say, “It’s okay to make a mistake.” By giving kids permission to fail and helping them recognize that mistakes can be positive learning experiences, we are opening the door to success later in life. Let them know that even the most successful people makes mistakes. When is the last time you told your child, “It’s okay to make a mistake in our house?”

  1. Admit your own mistakes

Whether you know it or not, your child sees you as all-knowing and all-powerful. Obviously, grownups make mistakes, too, but too often we hide them from our children and spouses. Don’t let the ‘duck syndrome‘ take control of your life. Admit your errors to your kids. It helps them recognize that everyone, even Superhero Dad or Wonder Woman Mom, mess up sometimes — and that’s okay. Keep in mind, though, that they’re also watching to see how you handle failure. 

  1. Show acceptance for mistakes

Whenever your child goofs up, show your support with both your nonverbal reactions and your words. The fastest way your children will learn to toss the idea that mistakes are the most horrible thing in the world is to allow them to feel their parents’ accepting responses to their errors.

  1. Tell your children how you overcame the obstacle

When you make an error, tell your child not only your mistake but also what you learned from it. If, for example, your dinner menu was a failure, first admit the mistake to your family quickly before they tell you themselves, and then say what you learned from the mistake. Here’s what this would look like:

“I sure messed up this recipe. I learned that I should always read the whole recipe first before adding the broccoli.”

Did your children witness you running late for work? Here’s how that conversation might go:

“I was late for work because I lost my keys. I learned I need to put them in the same place every time I come home so that I can find them when I need them.”

Use this template for your own conversations with your kids. When your child makes a mistake, ask him or her, “What was your mistake?” Follow up by saying, “What did you learn?”

Conclusion

Make mistakes be acceptable in your house. Stress that everyone — adults and children — make mistakes and that no one is perfect. Mistakes are how we learn. Emphasize over and over: “Don’t worry about your mistakes. Instead, think about what you’ll do differently next time.”

If we help kids learn from them, mistakes can be valuable lessons. Once your children realize failures aren’t the end of the world, they’ll be more likely to hang in there and not give up.