Impostor Syndrome is the feeling that you aren’t actually qualified for the work you are doing and will be discovered as a fraud. It is prevalent among women in open tech/culture, many of whom have been socialised to value other’s opinion of their work above their own, and to do things “by the book.” Impostor syndrome is a common reaction to doing publicly visible and publicly criticised work like that done in open technology and culture.
The Ada Initiative has several resources to address Impostor Syndrome:
- In-person training and discussion
- Guide to fighting impostor syndrome
- Writing exercises
- Video training with text transcript
In-person training and discussion
At our AdaCamp unconferences, Impostor Syndrome was so popular that we ramped up our coverage of it every year. We ran one session on Impostor Syndrome at AdaCamp Melbourne, five sessions at AdaCamp DC, and conference-wide opening sessions at AdaCamps in San Francisco, Portland, Berlin, Bangalore and Montreal.
We’re soon holding training on fighting impostor syndrome publicly.
Guide to fighting impostor syndrome
Our USENIX blog article Impostor Syndrome-Proof Yourself and Your Community has a number of weapons against impostor syndrome! We released this article Creative Commons BY-SA so that you can modify and re-distribute them in your community.
Ada Initiative advisor Leigh Honeywell created a values exercise to combat Impostor Syndrome, which we used at AdaCamp San Francisco. Leigh’s exercise is based on Miyake et al’s finding that writing about one’s values helps combat stereotype threat. Participants identify five values that are important to them, and write about one value. The worksheet also asks them to describe a time when they were asked for advice or treated as an expert. With this short simple exercise, students are primed for a more realistic, positive assessment of their own ability and achievements.
The worksheet is available online under Creative Commons Attribution. Contributions are welcome!
Video training with text transcript
Dreamwidth co-founder Denise Paolucci wrote a talk on Overcoming Impostor Syndrome, presented at several conferences. Denise’s talk has great strategies for both sufferers of impostor syndrome and for allies and leaders to help people realistically judge their own work and to seek help and support when they need it.
You can find the text transcript of the video here as well as included with the video. This talk transcript is based on the caption file for the video of Denise’s talk, prepared by Mirabai Knight of StenoKnight CART Services.