What is imposter syndrome? Women more likely to feel like ‘phonies’ than men

LONDON — Women are more likely to suffer from imposter syndrome than men, a new survey reveals. The poll of 4,000 British adults finds 53 percent of women have experienced this feeling of unfounded self-doubt, incompetence, and being underqualified — despite typically having the skills to do the job.

Comparatively, the majority of men admit they only ever feel like an imposter in the workplace (63%) and over half (54%) claim they’ve never felt that way at all. Women are most likely to experience this feeling in the workplace (72%), in school (29%), and when they’re out with friends (29%).

Of these women, 24 percent say it gets in the way of their romantic relationships and 18 percent say it disrupts their parenting. Pressure to “have it all” is a key trigger for one in five to experience imposter syndrome. Another 22 percent believe the phenomenon stops them from making new friends.

It also emerged that symptoms of imposter syndrome typically starts at the age of 23 for women, with 62 percent admitting that throughout their lives they have rarely experienced true confidence.

The research was commissioned by Galaxy confectionary, as part as part of its video series launch, “How to Thrive” with Young Women’s Trust, to help give the tools to conquer imposter syndrome. The chocolate brand has also teamed up with television presenter AJ Odudu to raise awareness about the issue.

“Imposter syndrome can be a crippling entity which impacts so many areas of everyday life,” says Odudu in a statement. “It can consume you whilst on social media, it can take over when away from home for the first time at university, it can also have an impact when forging friendships.”

Sad or jealous girl holding phone while friends talk behind her back
(© Photographee.eu – stock.adobe.com)

Modern pressures are weighing on younger adults

The survey also finds that while 63 percent believe a lack of confidence initially contributed to these feelings, 44 percent think constantly comparing themselves to others was another root cause. Additionally, three in 10 think being a “perfectionist” influences feeling like an imposter.

Worryingly, just a quarter of women who feel like an imposter have spoken openly about it, compared to 37 percent of men. Only 30 percent of women with these feelings have tried to reduce them. However, of those who have not attempted to mitigate imposter syndrome, 45 percent conceded they “don’t know where to start” to overcome it. Meanwhile, half admit they have just learned to live with it.

Overall, 65 percent of the men and women polled by OnePoll believe imposter syndrome has become more prevalent among younger people because of the societal pressures they face from places like social media.

“Our ambition is to empower young women, creating a ripple effect of women who then go on to enable the next generation to thrive,” says Victoria Gell, a spokesperson for Galaxy.

“Young women face many challenges reaching their potential, progressing in life and earning what they should,” adds Claire Reindorp, CEO at Young Women’s Trust.

“They’re more likely to be in lower paid jobs and sectors of the economy and more likely to get stuck there. At a time in life when women should be growing and learning, they’re instead too often trapped in a struggle just to get by.”

South West News sService writer Oliver Lewis contributed to this report.

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  1. Stop whining. You choose to be an imposter. Do the best you can do and stop worrying about what other people think of you because in most cases…..they don’t.

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