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How Business Women Can Beat Imposter Syndrome

imposter syndrome

Today is International Women’s Day, so it seems like an appropriate time to reflect not just on topics like the gender pay gap and gender inequality in business leadership but on supporting women and helping them be more successful in the future.

To that end, I’m not going to write about gender inequality in business today. There are plenty of statistics and research on that topic proving the gender gap in business is far from closing.

Instead, I’m going to write about how to beat Imposter Syndrome, which affects 66% of women (compared to 56% of men) according to a 2018 study of U.K. workers by Access Commercial Finance.

Imposter Syndrome is defined as:

A collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. ‘Imposters’ suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence.”

The infographic from Instant Offices included at the end of this article provides more statistics about Imposter Syndrome. For example, the top four causes of self doubt at work are:

Self-generated doubt: 38% Being criticized: 23% Having to ask for help: 20% Self comparisons to high achieving colleagues: 16%

The top five industries with employees who have experienced intense feelings of inadequacy in the past 12 months are:

Creative arts and design: 87% Environment and agriculture: 79% Information research and analysis: 79% Law: 74% Media and internet: 73%

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the five industries with the fewest employees citing intense feelings of self doubt in the past 12 months are:

Leisure, sport, and tourism: 45% Property and construction: 54% Engineering and manufacturing: 55% Insurance: 55% Retail: 57%

It’s important to understand that Imposter Syndrome isn’t unique to employees. Small business owners also experience intense feelings of self-doubt, although a study by AXA PPP Healthcare found that only 20% of small business owners (male and female) suffer from imposter syndrome.

Clearly, the problem is significantly worse for employees. Overall, 62% of employees (male and female) suffer from Imposter Syndrome.

The infographic below provides three helpful strategies that business women can use to beat Imposter Syndrome at work:

1. Accept Praise and Know Your Worth

Own your achievements. Be proud of them, pat yourself on the back, and use them to feel more confident at work. If you need to, write your achievements down. You can’t ignore how awesome you are when it’s right there in front of you on paper.

2. Change Your Thinking

Practice recognizing your self-defeating thoughts. When you can identify your patterns, you’ll be able to replace those negative thoughts with positive ones.

3. Stop Being a Perfectionist

The majority of people who suffer from Imposter Syndrome are overachievers who think they need to be perfect at everything they do. Does that sound like you? Stop thinking you have to be the best and you have to be perfect all the time. No one is perfect and without perfection you’ll miss many opportunities for learning and growth that can help you in your career.

Key Takeaways about Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome is common, but if you don’t learn to overcome it, you’ll be faced with self-created barriers to success. Instead, tear down those barriers, recognize how great you are, be confident, and own it!

Beating Imposter Syndrome

Susan Gunelius

Susan Gunelius is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Women on Business. She is a 25-year veteran of the marketing field and has authored ten books about marketing, branding, and social media, including the highly popular 30-Minute Social Media Marketing, Content Marketing for Dummies, Blogging All-in-One for Dummies and Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps. Susan’s marketing-related content can be found on Entrepreneur.com, Forbes.com, MSNBC.com, BusinessWeek.com, and more. Susan is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She has worked in corporate marketing roles and through client relationships with AT&T, HSBC, Citibank, Intuit, The New York Times, Cox Communications, and many more large and small companies around the world. Susan also speaks about marketing, branding and social media at events around the world and is frequently interviewed by television, online, radio, and print media organizations about these topics. She holds an MBA in Management and Strategy and a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing.

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