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Impostor syndrome as a way of understanding gender and careers

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    Rights statement: This is a draft chapter. The final version is available in Research Handbook of Diversity and Careers edited by Adelina M. Broadbridge and Andra L. Fielden, published in 2018, Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd https://doi.org/10.4337/9781785365607 The material cannot be used for any other purpose without further permission of the publisher, and is for private use only.

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Handbook of Diversity and Careers
EditorsAdelina M. Broadbridge, Sandra L. Fielden
PublisherEdward Elgar
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781785365607
ISBN (Print)9781785365591
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2018

Publication series

NameNew Horizons in Management


This chapter aims to review and develop work on the ‘impostor syndrome’ or ‘impostor phenomenon’, defined as the experiencing of persistent feelings of inadequacy and fraudulence despite evidence of competence and accomplishments. There are arguments and evidence to suggest that impostor syndrome affects both women and men, but that it can play a particularly influential role in shaping high-achieving women’s gendered experiences of career and leadership development. This chapter therefore also considers the particular types of experiences, associations and dilemmas shaping women’s impostor experiences at work, as well as theories, examples and explanations of how they might affect their career development. The chapter concludes with several implications and recommendations for how organisations and employees of both genders can resist feelings of rigid conformity and inauthenticity, largely by striving to develop more open, inclusive workplace cultures that emphasise multiple strengths, forms and routes to career success.

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