Many clients come to Whew! for Executive Leadership Coaching because they believe they have Imposter Syndrome, and they're seeking help to overcome it once and for all.
Countless articles have been written on the subject of Imposter Syndrome, and it has become such a prevalent part of our social discourse that most people have at least heard of the term.
The concept seems to be supported by compelling research. A survey reported in the Journal of Internal Medicine indicates that 82% of people have felt like an imposter at some point in their lives. Similarly, a KPMG LLP study found that 75% of executive women feel imposter syndrome.
Carpenter, J. Why so many millenials are prey to imposter syndrome. (May 2, 2021). Texas News Today. Online:
(also reported in Wall Street Journal. Online: https://www.wsj.com/articles/imposter-syndrome-young-adults-11619819337).
In our experience, the term Imposter Syndrome is overused and applied in situations where the real issues related to Identity Based Trauma or a lack of diversity and inclusion. When we take into account the societal assaults on race, gender, ethnicity, etc., it is not surprising that those with targeted characteristics feel doubt and uncertainty when trying to perform in marginalizing spaces.
For example, in their Harvard Business Review article entitled "Stop Telling Women They Have Imposter Syndrome," authors Ruchica Tulshyan and Jodi-Ann Burey discuss the original studies that identified the phenomenon on Imposter Syndrome:
"The impact of systemic racism, classism, xenophobia, and other biases was categorically absent when the concept of imposter syndrome was developed. Many groups were excluded from the study, namely women of color and people of various income levels, genders, and professional backgrounds.
Even as we know it today, imposter syndrome puts the blame on individuals, without accounting for the historical and cultural contexts that are foundational to how it manifests in both women of color and white women. Imposter syndrome directs our view toward fixing women at work instead of fixing the places where women work."
Whew!'s approach to these issues is to examine a client's feelings of doubt and fraudulence in the context of core identity. We conduct a thorough exploration of how the client's core identity has been nurtured or marginalized; and how that treatment impacts the client's current beliefs and functioning.