I’ve been thinking about Imposter Syndrome a lot recently – particularly in relation to the debates about why there are less women speakers – where I think the problems start far lower down than up in the speaker arena, and we need groups such as ‘Gathering of Women Leaders‘ who are offering spaces for women to meet together – including seeking ways to provide training/encouragement to women in the Christian world.
So I had a quick Google and found this helpful piece:
Two US sociologists, Jessica Collett and Jade Avelis, wanted to know why so many female academics opt for “downshifting”: setting out towards a high-status tenured post, then switching to something less ambitious. Contrary to received wisdom, their survey of 460 doctoral students revealed that it wasn’t to do with wanting a “family-friendly” lifestyle. Instead, impostorism was to blame. They also uncovered a nasty irony. It’s long been known that impostorism afflicts more women than men – one of many reasons that institutions match younger women academics with high-ranking female mentors. But some survey responses suggested those mentors might make things worse, because students felt like impostors compared with them. “One said she suspected her mentor was secretly Superwoman,” Science Careers magazine reported. “How could she ever live up to that example?”
Read the full article in The Guardian, where there’s the call that those who are in senior positions (or perceived senior?) speak about this more – I was only really given the confidence to continue with my PhD once my (female) supervisor told me about imposter syndrome, and I feel I can ‘sit with it’ most of the time, and just keep trying to do my best. It reminds me that the most inspiring sermons are always those who say “I’m still trying to think this through” … one of my crappy jokes for workshops – “there are more than 50 shades of grey in this debate”!
I find it helpful to think about the comment that the higher one goes in a meritocratic industry, the more one expects to be ‘found out’ (something Emma Watson also feels)- as my first book comes out in February, it’s really scary putting that stuff out there – knowing some people won’t like it… and is the way of things, they are the most likely to be vocal about that! I feel it every time I stand in front of a workshop, or speak from the stage … but most of the time I think it’s helpful – encourages me not to just to give a ‘lazy talk’, and remain on my mettle! So let’s encourage each other (focus where possible on the positive), and hear most critique in the way it’s meant – to encourage us to produce the best that we can…