Less than one in five people in the tech industry is a woman. For many women in tech, this exacerbates a feeling many of us have had at one point or another – imposter syndrome.
Yet many more women working in Information Technology report they suffer from feeling they don’t deserve to be where they are than men do.
Here are some ways the still disproportionately small number of women in the technology sector say they manage to beat imposter syndrome (though it applies to anyone who regularly feels this way).
How women in tech beat imposter syndrome
1) Remember that few people are as confident as they sound
If you regularly find yourself in a meeting with (often male) colleagues who appear confident and happy to share their opinions, remember that the appearance of confidence may be all it is.
For many people, the first time in a new job they raise their hand and offer the fruits of their experience is fraught with anxiety. Some are simply better at hiding it than others.
Yet once you’ve “broken the seal” on offering your opinion, it can become less of an obstacle next time. The time after that, it may feel completely natural.
2) Remember you are as (or more) qualified as the next person
Imposter syndrome is driven by the feeling that everyone else in the room has qualifications or experience you don’t.
In a recent survey, many tech industry women said the day they realised this wasn’t the case was the day they started to feel less of an imposter.
In fact, many women in tech are surprised to discover they tend to be more qualified than male colleagues who are much more willing to offer their thoughts on a subject.
Plus, don’t forget – at least one person in the company (and probably a whole team of IT recruitment professionals) – chose you out of all the other applicants.
They saw the value in what you had to offer. If you genuinely are at the start of your career with little experience, they saw your potential.
3) Remember you have a voice you can use
Many people in tech, not just women – especially those with software engineer jobs, data engineers, and the like – don’t like to draw attention to themselves.
It’s a little stereotypical perhaps, but shyness is a surprisingly common trait in some tech industry fields. In short, you’re not alone.
Whether you think of yourself as shy, introverted, or something similar, the best remedy is to use your voice.
You can always start small. Yet building toward being comfortable speaking is important. Especially if, like many women in tech, you visualise your future as one where you make a difference.
4) Remember you can volunteer to take the lead
Many meetings that launch new projects end up revolving around that one key question: “who is going to take ownership of this?”
If you want to start beating imposter syndrome, one of the best ways is to prove to yourself that you can take the lead and succeed.
Your qualifications say you can. The promise your IT recruiter spotted in you says you can. If you have experience, it may have something to say about the matter too.
Next time the question of who is going to handle a task comes up, consider raising your hand. Even if you’re not 100% experienced in the field. Even if you haven’t done it before.
Put yourself out there. There will be people there to help if you run into difficulties. When you succeed, you’ll have more experience to battle imposter syndrome next time.
5) Remember you can take the initiative
Even if there isn’t an explicit opportunity for you to take ownership of a task, there are all kinds of ways you can quietly take the initiative.
Why not try to resolve an issue your team are muttering about? Why not try to track down a fault? Or suggest an improvement in a process?
Odds are, the only reason someone hasn’t done it yet is insufficient time or it hasn’t been brought to the attention of the right person. Taking the initiative by offering a solution or improvement like this will serve you in several ways:
Firstly, it will improve your team’s daily working lives. Secondly, it puts you on your boss’s radar.
Thirdly, next time imposter syndrome strikes, you have one more achievement to fall back on to reinforce to yourself that you deserve to be here. It won’t hurt your CV the next time you apply for a new IT job either.
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