Imposter Syndrome as a Woman in Tech and 6 Ways to Combat It

Anna Auerbach talks about how to feel confident in your work and continue being successful, how to identify feelings of insecurity and methods to combat those feelings, and much more.

Anna Auerbach, Co-Founder & CoCEO of Werk

Anna Auerbach, Co-Founder & CoCEO of Werk

Have you ever felt like you don't belong in tech? Feel out of place as a woman on a male-dominated team? You're not alone. 

Women 2.0 and The Flatiron School sat down with Anna Auerbach, CoCEO and Co-Founder of Werk today for a live event on combatting Imposter Syndrome.

Anna talked us through how to feel confident in your work and continue being successful, how to identify feelings of insecurity and methods to combat those feelings, and much more.

WHAT IS IMPOSTER SYNDROME?

Imposter Syndrome happens when people who have really strong abilities don't believe they're good at what they do. Every time they do something, they wonder if they're going to be found out.

 

They literally feel as if they're an imposter in what they're doing. 

There is an opposite effect  that occurs, the Dunning-Kruger effect, that's a cognitive bias when individuals assess their ability as much higher than it really is.

While Dunning-Kruger effect is prevalent across the board, Imposter Syndrome disproportionately affects women. Women often feel as if any success is merely luck, and any failure is seen as a result of personal accountability and downfall.

People with Imposter Syndrome have an inability to internalize accomplishments and have a persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud". 

SO HOW DO YOU COMBAT IT?

One of the biggest things you can do is to be self-reflective and to do work that you love to do. When your emotion is in it, it doesn't feel like "dumb luck" when you succeed. Anna also suggests the following:

  1. Knowing is half the battle. If you're aware of the Imposter Syndrome and your own propensity towards it, you'll be better at identifying when it's making an impact on your work, your view of your capabilities, and your confidence.
  2. Embrace positive feedback, celebrate the wins. Listen hard, and when someone tells you something positive, internalize it. Most people are "spikey", meaning they aren't good at everything, but they balance the things they may not be great at with those that they are. Build on the spikes of where you're good, take feedback constructively, and understand that a strength is a strength (not luck!).
  3. Differentiate feelings from facts. Especially in business, it's not difficult to line up concrete results - ROI, campaign success, sales increase, product launch - with your own contribution to the process. Once you're able to do that, it's difficult to justify the feelings that are telling you things were a failure. Continue to look for (and accept) the indisputable facts that point to success.
  4. Even "non frauds" make mistakes. Remember how you're always comparing yourself to the people who are "actually" doing it right? They make mistakes too. And if they can make mistakes and still remain infallible, you can too.
  5. Separate yourself from "Me, Inc". Separate your own self as a human from what you're doing as a professional, it will be easier to recover. 
  6. Remember that you aren't under a microscope. The reality is that you aren't actually under the microscope as much as it feels like you are. People are not honed into your mess ups. One of the key things is to understand how you fit into the bottomline, and that the people around you are usually looking at that bottom line.

Anna also offered several resources you can access to learn more about and combat Imposter Syndrome.