Imposter syndrome/phenomenon results from a feeling of inadequacy that leads to self-doubt, a notion of fraudulence, and a sense of unworthiness regardless of one's achievements and accomplishments. The term "imposter phenomenon" was first coined by Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes as part of their study into the attitudes of high-achieving women, though "imposter syndrome" is the terminology that is now used most often. For more information on this initial study, visit the link to this first publication.
We acknowledge that imposter syndrome can affect anyone, regardless of gender or other identity, but is more prevalent among certain groups that are minorities within their communities (women in STEM, racial/ethnic minorities, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, persons with disabilities, etc.). For more information on the incidence of imposter syndrome in different groups, visit this article on the impact of imposter syndrome.
We interviewed three women at the University of Utah (Amy Sibul, Cynthia Burrows, Lisa Diamond) who are all in different STEM fields and have different career backgrounds. We asked each of the women about their experiences with imposter syndrome and feelings of discouragement throughout their career, and are using this page to highlight those instances. One of the interesting points to consider is how these experiences differ between research and teaching spheres, in part due to structural differences such as level of expected degree, priority to teach others vs. acquire funding, and pressures to conform to social norms. For more information, please explore the pages on each of the individual women and their stories.
To see the bios for each of the women, and the full length interviews conducted with them, please visit the Women in STEM welcome page.
Page researched and written by Charlotte Peacock, Marina Gerton, and Ronata Ibrahim.