Feelings of an imposter
I recently came across a question that was ask: Do I know of any women who consider themselves to be an imposter? For the life of me I cannot find the thread. But I did comment and here is my thoughts:
I do think sometimes women do feel like an imposter, a phony, someone who shouldn’t be doing their role or like that are not as skilled as their colleagues. For me, I think women in tech and even more so in open source have these pangs of feelings of being imposter regularly. Myself included. I’m not a real developer I don’t write code, I’m not a real geek,I’m not developing the next new application to be used!
The perception to be taken seriously is you need to do X to be accepted. You need to be a hard core developer and that is the only defined accepted metric to view. It’s one that’s at is always at the of your mind. You start to compare you and your work to your colleagues and when you work with male team this increases ten fold.
I surrounded myself with some very smart people not just at work, but also when I’m attending conferences, socialising at events and even at home! This can lead to doubting yourself and questioning your involvement in community activities. You become so involved in work you may not be putting yourself out there as much at events that you feel you’re less of a geek and more of an imposter. It easily happens and is harder to rectify.
Small things make a big difference. Engaging in the right community and being made feel welcome leads to becoming more active in your participation. Acknowledging peoples work makes them feel that they are worthwhile and that they should continue. You want to show people that no matter what work they do they are appreciated. Being appreciated and acknowledged is a small step in people realising the work they do is worthwhile and they are less of an imposter.
It’s never easy and I don’t know the right things that will fix it all for people, there are times when even I feel like a fraud, I was out recently on a great day out with some lovely friends and open source community enthusiasts, I was the only female in attendance. The majority of the conversation wasn’t even technical but going by what they did in their day jobs I felt a twinge of OMG I’m not as geeky as these people are.
It takes time and acceptance to be ok with this, I’m ok with being who I am. I do know a lot of stuff, but not as much as others, I can ask questions, read mailing lists and surround myself with smart people and learn by osmosis! I’m at this point in my life where I’m ok with that, 20 year old me had a lot to learn and grow. I only hope others do too.
This is not a topic I talk about a lot, nor am I am expert in, in fact I tend to shy away from these sorts of things, I hope by talking about it more we recognise it’s still an issue out there and we need to tackle it.