Imposter Syndrome is a socio-psychological condition that mainly impacts women, from diverse backgrounds, from working-class, coloured to privileged. It can affect men, though not as much. Symptoms include negative self-talk, feelings of unworthiness for promotion, reward or success, and regarding oneself as undeserving of recognition in the workplace (Ling et al, 2020). Any success tends to be regarded as ‘potluck’ or even treated with suspicion as somehow disingenuous. Individuals who experience imposter syndrome question their credibility, suffer from self-doubt, and may overcompensate by becoming perfectionists or workaholics (Ladonna et al 2018). They harbour feelings of low self-worth and rarely share their insecurities with their colleagues (Ling et at, 2020). The syndrome can have a debilitating effect on individuals, who fear being exposed as imposters, leading to anguish and self-delusion (Gadby, 2022). Imposter syndrome is not a psychological disorder, it is a set of interconnected behaviours, emotions that defy rational thinking (Gadby 2022). In worst case scenarios left unchecked those experiencing symptoms of imposter syndrome could end up self-sabotaging their careers. While imposter syndrome impacts other professions, the individualism, ‘hyper-competitiveness’, relentless use of metrics comparing one academic with ‘standards’ of higher education intensifies this syndrome among academics (Bothello, Roulet 2019).
The good news is that the symptoms of imposter syndrome can be managed. In collaboration with Mark Douglas, organisational psychologist and Director of Ethos Consulting, we have designed a workshop that aims to empower participants to spot and stop career sabotage caused by imposter syndrome.
Here’s some feedback from participants about the workshop:
The workshop helped me understand how to prioritise my responsibilities to ensure
that I make the best use of my time for myself and my career.
I thought both presenters had valuable information to share and worked well as a team in
delivering the workshop material.
Kerry Carrington was inspiring. It was really valuable to have such a successful academic provide insights into this subject. Knowing that she had also struggled with imposter sydrome was comforting. She was down-to-earth and supportive and genuinely cared about the participants.
Bothello J. and. Roulet T,(2019)The Imposter Syndrome, or the Mis‐Representation of Self in Academic Life Journal of Management Studies 56:4 doi: 10.1111/joms.12344
Clance, P. R., and S. A. Imes. 1978. “The impostor phenomenon in high achieving women: Dynamics and therapeutic intervention.” Psychotherapy Theory Res. Pract. 15 (3): 241–247. https://doi.org/10.1037 /h0086006
Gadsby, S. (2022) Imposter Syndrome and Self-Deception, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 100:2, 247-261, DOI: 10.1080/00048402.2021.1874445
LaDonna, K. A., S. Ginsburg, and C. Watling. 2018. “Rising to the level of your incompetence: What physicians’ self-assessment of their performance reveals about the imposter syndrome in medicine.” Acad. Med. 93 (5): 763–768. https://doi.org/10.1097/ACM.0000000000002046
Ling, F.; Zhang, Z ; and Tay, S. (2020)Tay Imposter Syndrome and Gender Stereotypes: Female Facility Managers’ Work Outcomes and Job Situations J. Manage. Eng., 2020, 36(5): 04020061