I believe so strongly in the notion that you didn’t get to where you are without support, without cheerleaders, without both overt and behind-the-scenes advocacy. It’s a huge part of the reason I share what I have learned and continue to learn in this blog. But it’s not just the individual it benefits; it’s also the entire profession.
Mastering the workplace: An ongoing series in which we talk about work skills so you can rock your job. I was in a meeting today in which I had to introduce and define impostor syndrome to some (ahem, male) colleagues, explaining how important it was and that this is a real thing. I’ll save you a google – impostor syndrome is SUPER common throughout academia, and is when high achieving individuals – often women – believe that they are impostors, waiting to be found out and walked out of the workplace. They “struggle to internalize their success…[describing] feelings of fraudulence because they do not attribute their success to their own abilities despite many achievements and accolades. Imposters see themselves as unworthy of the level of praise they are receiving because they do not believe they have earned such recognition based on their capabilities, causing heightened levels of anxiety and stress.” (Anna Parkman, “The Imposter Phenomenon in Higher Education: Incidence and Impact,” Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice, 2016, p.52).
International Women’s Day is coming up and #metoo has been inescapable this year, with good reason, I might add. While I’m not going to comment on that specifically, I will use this moment to reflect on women in my workplace. One of the reasons I’ve been so content in my work since landing (back) in academia has been that I have been fortunate to land in a field where I am mentored by, work for, and work alongside amazingly talented, skilled, intelligent, and compassionate women. In fact, since joining my current university department more than 7 years ago, I have consistently heard that the field I work in – which I’m not going to identify due to privacy concerns – is more than 75% women. Industry-wide, not just in my corner of the work world at my university. That turns out to be true. In fact, I guess the most recent data now show that the workforce is actually closer to 85% women. And so perhaps my own experience of working amongst a team of inspiring women leaders may not be unique, no matter where I go next. That is great news to me! And yet, we still have miles to go. Let’s talk about three problems that brings to bear.