Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern that affects many people, regardless of their gender or professional background. However, research has shown that women are more likely to experience imposter syndrome than men, especially in fields where they are underrepresented.
In her book, “The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from Imposter Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It,” Dr. Valarie Young highlights five types of imposter syndrome that women often experience.
Which “imposter” are you? Let’s explore each type, as well as some ways to begin overcoming these feelings of self-doubt.
Many successful women struggle with perfectionist imposter syndrome, which involves setting extremely high expectations for oneself and feeling like anything less than perfect is a failure. They may feel like they have to work harder than their male counterparts to prove themselves, and they may struggle to delegate tasks or ask for help because they believe they should be able to handle everything on their own.
To overcome the perfectionist mindset, it’s important to set realistic goals and focus on progress, not perfection. Practice self-compassion and acknowledge your accomplishments and strengths, rather than only focusing on where you feel like you’re falling short.
Women in male-dominated fields may experience expert imposter syndrome, which involves feeling like a fraud because they believe they are not knowledgeable or skilled enough, despite evidence to the contrary. They may struggle to speak up in meetings or assert themselves because they fear being exposed as incompetent.
To overcome this mentality, recognize that it is okay to ask questions and seek out information – in fact, this will only make you a better leader. Challenge the negative self-talk when it comes up by reminding yourself of your accomplishments and expertise.
Women who are the only woman or one of few women in their workplace may experience soloist imposter syndrome, which involves feeling like a burden or like one should be able to do everything on their own. They may struggle to ask for help or delegate tasks, believing that they should be able to handle everything themselves.
If you are a Soloist, it’s important to build a supportive network of colleagues and mentors who can offer guidance and support. Remember that trying to be a one-woman show will only hinder your effectiveness as a leader – delegate tasks and responsibilities to others when appropriate.
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Successful women may also experience superhero imposter syndrome, which involves feeling like they must work harder and accomplish more than anyone else in order to prove their worth. They may put in long hours at work or take on additional projects because they believe they have to do more than their male counterparts to be taken seriously.
Trying to be the “Superhero” will only lead to burnout and ultimately hurt your work performance. It’s important to set boundaries and prioritize your time and energy. Practice self-care and engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.
Finally, women who have achieved success early in their careers may experience natural genius imposter syndrome, which involves feeling like one’s successes are due to innate talent or luck, rather than hard work and effort. They may feel like they don’t deserve their achievements or that they will be exposed as a fraud once their luck runs out.
To overcome this type of imposter syndrome, recognize that success is the result of both innate talent and hard work and effort. Practice self-compassion and acknowledge that making mistakes and facing challenges is a normal part of the learning process, and doesn’t mean you don’t deserve your accomplishments.
Imposter syndrome is a common experience among successful women, especially in fields where they are underrepresented. If you are a woman who is experiencing imposter syndrome, it’s important to remember that you are not alone and that many successful women have felt the same way. Recognizing the type of imposter syndrome you are experiencing can help you to develop strategies for managing your feelings and achieving your goals.
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