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Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: Fix Workplaces, Not Women


Does everyone feel like an imposter?

It’s no secret that imposter syndrome is common in the workplace. Most of us, especially women, have likely experienced it at some point–but do we ever think about why we feel like imposters?

Imposter syndrome is a phenomenon where individuals feel like frauds despite their achievements and qualifications and are constantly afraid of being exposed. This is particularly common among women in the workplace, with over 75% of executive women having experienced imposter syndrome at some point in their careers. However, considering the true definition of the term, we know that women are not the problem.

a person who pretends to be someone else in order to deceive others, especially for fraudulent gain

It is critical to note that the impact of systemic racism, classism, xenophobia, and other biases were not considered when the concept of imposter syndrome was first developed. The initial studies excluded women of color and people of various income levels, genders, and professional backgrounds, which has led to a narrower understanding of its effects.

Race plays a role

The reality is that imposter syndrome is not just a personal problem but a manifestation of broader societal and cultural issues. Women of color and white women experience these feelings of ostracization differently, and the impact of these biases cannot be overlooked.

Women of color often face the intersectionality of multiple forms of discrimination and oppression, which leads to a heightened sense of discomfort and isolation in their workplace. In fact, as mentioned in Harvard Business Review, “the same systems that reward confidence in male leaders, even if they’re incompetent, punish white women for lacking confidence, women of color for showing too much of it, and all women for demonstrating it in a way that’s deemed unacceptable.”

Women are also tasked with “breaking through the glass ceiling” to move up in the workplace, and these feelings of estrangement can make it even more difficult for them to advance in their careers. This is because imposter syndrome leads to self-doubt, low self-esteem, and a lack of confidence, which are all barriers to success.

Let’s shift the focus from fixing women to fixing workplaces

But the focus must shift from fixing women at work to “fixing the places where women work,” as stated by HBR. The work environment must be inclusive, supportive, and empowering so that women feel confident and competent in their abilities. This can be achieved by promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, as well as by creating a culture that values the contributions of all employees.

Imposter syndrome is a real and pressing issue for women in the workplace. However, centuries of oppression cultivated this feeling of fraudulence, so the blame cannot be placed solely on individuals. Instead, we must acknowledge and address the historical and cultural contexts that contribute to the manifestation of imposter syndrome and work towards creating inclusive and empowering work environments–one where women know and believe that they belong.


Are you tired of feeling like a fraud in your own success? It’s time to break free from imposter syndrome and own your confidence! At BREAKTHRU, we’re committed to empowering women to overcome self-doubt and realize their true potential. But we’re not just talking about it–we’re taking action.

Join us in our mission to eliminate imposter syndrome. The more women who believe in themselves and work their way into leadership roles, the fewer imposters there will be. Don’t wait–start owning your confidence today!

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