Impostor Syndrome Growing Among Women in the Workplace


Unfortunately, the unsettling feeling of being a fraud in the workplace is growing increasingly normal, particularly among high-achieving ladies who frequently report feeling like they are unable to complete their assigned tasks in the workplace.

Gender studies linked to HR research shows intriguing contrasts between men and woman in whether employees prefer feeling either really skilled or being pushed to their limits.

Inside most working environments, getting fulfillment from being gifted at something, and utilising those aptitudes in order to succeed is an exceptionally rewarding experience for both genders. Then again, risking failure taking unfamiliar tasks, or when faced with new and assignments can be unsettling for the most skilled employees; though ultimately rewarding if overcome.

Impostor Syndrome

Impostor syndrome is characterised by feelings of inadequacy or being a fake. It implies self-doubt and is usually associated with anxious states of mind and low self-confidence. The phrase was first created by Psychoanalyst Dr Pauline Clancey who states it is “An internal, unfounded feeling that you are a fraud.”

Not only is this quite unpleasant, it is also increasingly common in professional woman rather than men. High achieving ladies frequently reported feeling uneasy about their abilities in senior roles with more responsibilities; anticipating that their colleagues should see they had been hired “by accident” into senior roles.

Impostor syndrome experienced by some interviewees in a gender equality-impostor syndrome correlation study who reported strongly liking their roles at work, has uncovered an interesting gender difference in how they described loving them.

Those who reported strongly liking or loving their work because it “gave them a sense of competence and responsibility” were all female. Those who reported strongly liking or loving their roles due to feeling stretched or mentally tested were all men.

It is important to note here that the women in the study were academics and senior administrators, international aid workers; rather than stress-free roles. It was not that they weren’t being challenged in their jobs; it was the sentiment of the role particularly that they enjoyed.

Rather, there was a feeling of natural fulfillment and satisfaction from a difficult task done well. Ultimately, they adored their work as they had the aptitude, limit and capacity to carry out their jobs well and were best using them to the fullest.

A large number of the women from the study expressed a feeling of fulfillment coming from knowing their abilities were a solid match for the job and helped them to make a meaningful contribution.

We ought to to recognise a talented specialist who is acutely conscious of her capacities and skill, and who only takes on tasks they know they can excel in, as being more valuable to a working team than someone who wants to jump into any project without admitting being out of their depth.

It is those brave, yet ultimately possibly impetulant, daring team members who not only risk their own careers but also the success or safety of their own team too; worse still the entire organisation depending on the role in the mission for stretch themselves and their abilities.

Read more about our thoughts on workplace gender equality here.