Thus Spake Zuska

Are You Feeling Like An Imposter?

If you are, you may want to read this article over at ScienceCareers. It’s very informative, with a link or two to some resources, and what’s even cooler, it features quotes from Mrs. Whatsit (named “Abigail” in the article) and Sciencewoman (named “Mary”)!!! Good stuff.

p.s. hat tip to my Sciblings on the back channel for letting me know about this!


  1. #1 Alexis
    February 16, 2008

    Hm, I wonder if this is going to be the latest meme sweeping the news. I just read an article on this in the Times about 2 weeks ago:

  2. #2 Helen
    February 16, 2008

    This happens to me very often. If I don’t understand something at work, I feel that somehow I got accepted into this job that I don’t deserve and that soon they will all realize how inept I am.

    Just last week, a coworker gave me some specs on our communications channel, but the numbers just seemed off to me – I could not for the life of me get the sampling rate correct. Then I realized that there was an error in the specs, an error caused by a very intelligent engineer who has been with the company 4 years longer than I. And I, in my first week of employment, caught his error.

    So maybe I’m not an imposter.

  3. #3 Sophie Hirschfeld
    February 16, 2008

    I am betting this stretches itself into many other realms as well. I am sure that the same likely happens with less prestigious work.

  4. #4 Pat
    February 17, 2008

    I have slightly different cut on the impostor syndrome. It seems that the impostor syndrome is a lot like test anxiety. The relationship between text anxiety and achievement is not linear. Those with no or little test anxiety (aka those who don’t study) and those with a lot of text anxiety score lower on tests than do those with a medium amount. Feeling a little bit of an impostor (which heaven knows I feel a lot) causes me to be more prepared. When I’m feeling a lot like an impostor, hiding in under the bedcovers is my option of choice

  5. #5 Zuska
    February 20, 2008

    Very interesting take on the impostor syndrome, Pat!

    I had the impostor syndrome bad for years and years. I finally started arguing with myself as follows: if I am so unworthy, it would be my boss’s job to reprimand me for bad work or fire me. Therefore I will rely on upper management to toss me out; until then, I’ll just try to work.

    Interestingly, for me, going into industry helped me manage/get rid of impostor feelings. I was lucky to land in a place where I often got positive feedback from lots of team members. If you are in a position to thank someone for a job well done, make sure you do it.

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