Imposter syndrome is a phenomenon where individuals doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud." This is especially prevalent in women working in male-dominated industries, such as construction.
You're Not Alone
Imposter syndrome is not unique to you, many people experience it, in fact it is reported that up to 82% of people experience imposter syndrome at some point in their career. It is a particular challenge for high performers. High performers that have always been successful in their careers or challenges they have undertaken tend to attribute their successes to luck or having help from external sources, rather than their own abilities. Despite their successes, they may doubt their abilities and fear that they will be exposed as a fraud. As they feel pressure to maintain their level of success, they are less likely to seek help or support due to fear of being perceived as weak or inadequate.
What Does Imposter Syndrome Look Like?
Women in construction experience imposter syndrome in a number of ways. They may feel like they need to work harder than their male counterparts to prove themselves, or they may doubt their own abilities and feel as though they are not qualified for their job. They may also feel like they need to constantly prove themselves to their colleagues and supervisors. They may be less likely to speak up in meetings or to take on leadership roles, for fear of that being the level where they will be exposed.
Women in construction may also be more likely to experience a range of negative consequences, such as anxiety, depression, and burnout as they are constantly pushing themselves to prove their worth. They may also be less likely to take risks or try new things, for fear of failure.
Imposter syndrome is not the same as actually being a fraud. People who are frauds do not experience imposter syndrome. Read that again. Real frauds are aware that they are not qualified or capable of performing a certain task or job and they are intentionally misleading or misrepresenting themselves. People who are actually frauds, do not have the fears or doubts. They do not have the feelings of self-doubt or fear of being exposed as imposter syndrome sufferers do. This is a really important point to be aware of because it can be a practical approach to managing your feelings of being an imposter.
There are Solutions!
The good news is there are ways to overcome imposter syndrome. One way is to challenge negative thoughts and beliefs about yourself. Instead of focusing on what you lack, focus on your strengths and accomplishments. Give yourself the credit you deserve for the journey you have travelled in the industry – it is rarely “easy” for a woman in construction to get to where you are. You can also develop coping mechanisms and strategies to manage your thoughts and feelings, as well as strive to prioritize self-care to prevent burnout.
Another way to overcome imposter syndrome is to surround yourself with a supportive network of colleagues, family and friends who can provide encouragement and validation. Other people who become your cheerleaders, reminding you of your true greatness.
The Vulnerability Superpower
Although this may seem counter-intuitive, being vulnerable can be a helpful solution to overcome imposter syndrome. Being vulnerable is not about exposing yourself completely, it's about sharing your thoughts and experiences in a safe and supportive environment. This can be done through talking with friends, family members, or colleagues you trust and are comfortable with. When individuals who experience imposter syndrome share their thoughts and feelings with others, they can gain a better understanding that they are not alone in their experiences. Being vulnerable can also help to strengthen trust and connections with others, which can provide a sense of support and validation. In addition, allowing yourself to be vulnerable and say you don’t have an answer, or you don’t know something gives you back the control. Nobody in any industry with any number of years of experience knows everything there is to know about their trade. When you are okay to say you don't know you no longer have to feel like someone is going to “expose” you.
Sharing your experiences with imposter syndrome can also help to normalize the phenomenon and reduce the sense of isolation that can come with it. It can also help to shift the focus from your insecurities to the accomplishments and strengths that they bring to the table. As mentioned earlier, a lot of people experience imposter syndrome, it is likely the people you share with will be able to identify with you.
Seeking feedback from others is another way to use vulnerability as a solution. High performers, in particular, may be less likely to seek feedback because they fear it will expose their inadequacies, but feedback can be a valuable tool for understanding your strengths and weaknesses.
Another strategy to overcome imposter syndrome is to be kind to yourself. Individuals who experience imposter syndrome often have a tendency to be self-critical and to focus on their perceived shortcomings. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.
Being kind to yourself means being compassionate and understanding towards yourself. Instead of focusing on your shortcomings, again it comes back to focusing on your strengths and accomplishments. It's also important to remember that mistakes and failures are a normal part of life, and that everyone has the capacity to learn and grow from them.
One way to be kind to yourself is to practice self-compassion. This means treating yourself with the same kindness, concern, and understanding that one would offer to a good friend. Self-compassion can help to reduce feelings of shame and self-criticism, and increase feelings of self-worth and self-esteem.
Another way to be kind to yourself is to set realistic and achievable goals. High performers, in particular, may have high expectations of themselves, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy when they don't meet them. Setting realistic and achievable goals that you are willing to take action on, can help to reduce the pressure and stress of always having to perform at your highest level.
A final way to help beat imposter syndrome is to be part of a positive and inclusive work environment. Employers in construction industry should provide mentoring and training opportunities to women and actively promote diversity and inclusion in their workplace. If you have a forward-thinking employer, you can suggest this type of mentoring and training program, if they don’t already have one in place. If you don’t have this type of employer, I would encourage you to find one. The demand for people in construction is high and there are good opportunities out there for you if you’re willing to look for it.
Imposter syndrome is a real phenomenon that can have a negative impact on an individual's mental health and well-being. Overall, imposter syndrome is a common issue that affects many women in construction and other male-dominated industries. By recognizing and addressing it, individuals can overcome these feelings of self-doubt and reach their full potential in their careers.
Are you a woman in construction looking for support in your business or in your career? Get in touch at my website at www.ThriveHQ.ca I'm here to support you in your growth, your career and your business.