Pre-conference Discussion: The Imposter Syndrome

The Imposter Syndrome

When: Wednesday, May 15th, 10 AM – NOON

Where:  Marriott Kingsgate Hotel

Who: Amy E. Landis

Amy E. Landis, ASU

Have you ever thought:

“I can’t believe I just got accepted to that program/received that award/got that grant/published that paper…  Those reviewers must have had low standards, or maybe I was just lucky. That’s right, it must’ve been luck. There is no way I’m as good as others in my field. How have I fooled all of these people? I’m just waiting to be exposed as a fraud.” 

Well, you’re not alone. I’ve experienced the imposter syndrome since graduate school. I have probably attributed every single item on my CV to some sort of mysterious fluke at one point or another. And then I read the latest blog about the imposter syndrome or I have cocktails with my favorite group of female faculty at ASU, and I think to myself, ‘Crap! You got sucked in again! Lots of people feel this way, and it’s obviously not true for them. Maybe you’re not a fraud…’

Feeling like an impostor is a common phenomenon among academics and researchers.  The difference between self-perception and reality is a pervasive and debilitating phenomena recently revealed by the famous ‘Dove Commercial’.

First identified in 1978 by Clance and Imes, people who experience the Imposter Phenomenon often feel that their achievements are not a result of their competence, despite meeting or exceeding external standards.

I’ve found it tremendously liberating just to talk about the imposter syndrome. Knowing that other amazing people experience the same feelings makes it feel less overwhelming and less debilitating. So, the first half of our discussion will explore the imposter syndrome and the ways in which it can not only affect a persons’ confidence, but also the insidious ways it affects their career.

Fake it ’til you make it and other strategies for your inner critic.

The second half of our discussion will explore strategies for managing the imposter syndrome. Certainly, one of the common pieces of advice that I received was ‘fake it til you make it’ which sometimes works for me and sometimes it doesn’t. There are a host of other things that you can do—I’ll present some well-known strategies and we’ll brainstorm others. We’ll also discuss what advisors can do, such as emphasizing respect and support rather than ‘fixing.’

Who is this discussion for?

  • Women and men who identify with the impostor syndrome
  • Anyone who advises students
  • Anyone who manages or leads people
  • Anyone who collaborates with other people
  • Really, this is for everyone.

Amy Landis is an Associate Professor at Arizona State University in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment. Despite a successful career and an envious CV, Landis often feels like an imposter.

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