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It's only because they like me. I was in the right place at the right time. I just work harder than the others. I don't deserve this. It's just a matter of time before I am found out. Someone must have made a terrible mistake.
If you are a working woman, chances are this inter-nal monologue sounds all too familiar. And you're not alone. From the high-achieving Ph.D. candidate convinced she's only been admitted to the program because of a clerical error to the senior executive who worries others will find out she's in way over her head, a shocking number of accomplished women in all ca-reer paths and at every level feel as though they are faking it--impostors in their own lives and careers.
While the impostor syndrome is not unique to women, women are more apt to agonize over tiny mistakes, see even constructive criticism as evi-dence of their shortcomings, and chalk up their accomplishments to luck rather than skill. They often unconsciously overcompensate with crippling perfec-tionism, overpreparation, maintaining a lower pro-file, withholding their talents and opinions, or never finishing important projects. When they do succeed, they think, Phew, I fooled 'em again.
An internationally known speaker, Valerie Young has devoted her career to understanding women's most deeply held beliefs about themselves and their success. In her decades of in-the-trenches research, she has uncovered the often surprising reasons why so many accomplished women experience this crushing self-doubt.
In The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women, Young gives these women the solution they have been seek-ing. Combining insightful analysis with effective ad-vice and anecdotes, she explains what the impostor syndrome is, why fraud fears are more common in women, and how you can recognize the way it mani-fests in your life.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-08-15
- Reviewer: Staff
Career coach Young explores the “imposter syndrome”—why accomplished women are consumed with insecurity and the fear that they don’t deserve their success and that it’s just a matter of time before they’re found out. She cites Dr. Sheila Widnall, an MIT professor of aeronautics, who observes, “Treat a male student badly and he will think you’re a jerk. Treat a female student badly and she will think you have finally discovered that she doesn’t belong in engineering.” Though this is primarily female behavior, frequent quotes from celebrities of both genders provide a comforting counterpoint. It’s not, as the author wryly points out, all in our heads; men are able to go further by doing significantly less, and “striving while female” is still held to be a crime and female ambition frequently punished. How to triumph? Young presents the reasons why many women feel like imposters and how to get past these reasons; she also describes self-sabotaging behaviors and how to stop them in their tracks. Though there’s been much written on this difficult topic, Young’s extremely perceptive and action-oriented solutions shine; she urges women to focus on their actual, measurable achievements without editorializing (“just the facts, ma’am!”) and to take their cue from men and to fake it till they make it. A can’t-miss primer for businesswomen everywhere. (Oct.)