The Imposter Syndrome

How many of us have doubted ourselves, or our credentials, and wondered whether everyone else could see just what a fraud we are? What’s that about? It turns out that the Imposter Syndrome affects some of us more than others, as Alyssa Westring, one of our DePaul Public Voices fellows, pointed out in a recent essay for Inside Higher Education:
I began my search with the phrase “the imposter phenomenon,” a term I learned about in graduate school that still rang true. Visiting this research again, I found that Clance and Imes coined the phrase in 1978 to describe successful women who felt like “phonies” despite evidence of their intelligence and accomplishments. In the thirty years since their work, a broader body of research has emerged exploring how women attribute the causes of their success and their reactions to feedback in typically male dominated fields. There is ample evidence that from a young age, girls are taught that their success in these fields is due external factors such as hard work or luck and failures are due to ability; whereas the opposite attributions are taught to boys. These patterns of thinking often persist throughout adulthood – where even those who women who have persisted in typically male-dominated fields feel more uncertain about their ability and are more anxious about being revealed as “an imposter.” These beliefs also correspond to a greater sensitivity to the possibility of rejection and internalization of negative feedback.
For the full story on the Imposter Syndrome, read more here: Inside Higher Ed
(photo courtesy of Igor Polzenhagen)

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