Dealing with imposter syndrome as a working woman in India
Imposter syndrome can get in the way of one’s career progression, especially for women, who already have the proverbial glass ceiling to shatter. Imagine if they also have to counter self-doubts, not based on anything substantial!
Imposter syndrome is the inability to believe that our success stems from our hard work and commitment and not because of sheer luck.
People suffering from imposter syndrome will have feelings of inadequacy about their abilities and achievements—no matter how accomplished or respected they are in their field of work.
It is more pronounced in women because of several factors like personal and familial experiences, stereotypes, and even labels like “the first” to have achieved something, which can trigger it.
First identified in 1978, imposter syndrome can get in the way of one’s career progression, especially for women, who already have the proverbial glass ceiling to shatter. Imagine if they also have to counter self-doubts, not based on anything substantial!
When you look at one of the biggest reasons for a gender pay gap, it is because even senior women are afraid of asking for a pay raise.
When women are affected by imposter syndrome, they start playing small, stop taking risks, and are not assertive about what they want.
A KPMG study says that out of the 750 high-performance executives interviewed across different verticals, over 75% of them admitted to experiencing imposter syndrome. The report added that more than 74% of executives believed their male peers do not experience as much self-doubt as they did.
These interesting statistics from the study give us a deeper insight into how imposter syndrome affects women in the workplace:
- 81% believed they put more pressure on themselves not to fail compared to men
- 57% experienced imposter syndrome when they assumed a new leadership role or rose to an executive level
- 47% reported experiencing imposter syndrome because they never expected to reach the level of success they have achieved
- 56% of executives believe that those around them will not believe they are as capable as they are expected to be
- 62% expressed concerns about being able to meet the corporate’s cultural expectations
- 77% said they experience imposter syndrome when their expectations and the reality of their career are different.
So, how can women overcome imposter syndrome?
Stay away from seeking external validation
Wanting external validation for everything is a textbook sign of imposter syndrome. Women should note that this validation is not from the work itself but in the act of working too.
Do not let anyone else have the power to make you feel good or bad about yourself. It should be under your control. Make yourself feel confident by internally validating yourself.
Write down your achievements
When you are focused on the day’s tasks and keep working on the trot, every time you make a mistake, you will start feeling underconfident and question everything about your work ethic and ability.
This is when you have to pore through a list of all your accomplishments at your job.
If you don’t already have a list of all your successfully achieved goals and tasks, you should start doing this from today.
Find a mentor
It is no wonder that women feel less confident in a workplace that has mostly male colleagues. One of the problems for women to feel insecure about their ability to climb the corporate ladder is that they don’t see many women in leadership positions.
Find a mentor early on, preferably someone in your industry. Share your feelings with your mentor and see what insights they offer about how everything works, especially for a woman.
Having a mentor helps you give confidence because what they tell you is a reflection of what others think of you, especially since women with imposter syndrome are overly critical of themselves.
Have honest conversations about imposter syndrome
If you are feeling inadequate, acknowledge it first instead of going on a mental tirade of self-pity and criticism.
Have honest conversations with your colleagues about imposter syndrome. You will be able to find male allies who will agree with how you feel and help you in ways that could cut down the feelings of self-doubt. Once it is spoken about in the open, imposter syndrome loses its relevance.
If left unchecked, imposter syndrome can be debilitating for women who will find it difficult to perform fully functionally. Women need to acknowledge the issue and take steps to counter it in possible ways.
Edited by Suman Singh