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How to overcome Imposter Syndrome

Woman looking in a mirror, imposter syndrome concept

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Kelly Hills, Software Developer at Avangrid, gives her tips and tricks on tackling imposter syndrome.

THE TECH INDUSTRY IS A VERY ATTRACTIVE ONE FOR MANY REASONS.

It offers talent the opportunity to learn new skills, understand interesting concepts, and find ways to innovate to help move the business forwards. But the fact that there is so much to learn, and so many areas to focus on, can make the journey into the industry overwhelming. In addition, tech is rapidly evolving, and keeping up to date with the latest advancements can be tough.

Put all of this together and you see why people may have a feeling of imposter syndrome. For women in tech, who still face a male-dominated industry that has to do more to increase diversity, this feeling can be compounded.  With tech moving so fast and new phenomena like Generative AI set to change the way many tech employees work, there is a risk women in the industry will feel more out of their depth than ever. Women shouldn’t have to ‘prove’ to themselves and others they can rise to the challenge and succeed in tech – so we need a plan for overcoming imposter syndrome.

Kelly Hills, Software Developer at Avangrid

In this article, Kelly Hills, Software Developer at Avangrid, gives her tips and tricks on tackling imposter syndrome.

Kelly is a Software Developer at Avangrid and Pluralsight Author. Before joining Avangrid, Kelly was a Software Engineer at TD Bank.

INCORPORATE LEARNING INTO YOUR ROUTINE

Many people pursue a career in tech because it is a passion, so the feeling of not having sufficient knowledge and expertise to succeed in the industry can be disheartening.

One of the most effective ways to combat this and build confidence in our abilities is by embracing upskilling and developing a growth mindset. Building new skill sets is incredibly rewarding as it helps to understand new concepts, and even to be able to work on new projects or progress into new roles.

As a result of building a deeper understanding of technical concepts, confidence and self-efficacy greatly improve. Although we may always feel imposter syndrome from time to time, the confidence gained through regular upskilling, and knowing you are on the pulse of the latest developments in tech, can help to keep those feelings of inadequacy in check.

It’s also important to incorporate learning into our daily routines in a way that’s maintainable. Bite-size courses from online tech learning platforms like Pluralsight for example, that allow you to dip in and out during the working day can be a really convenient way to ensure learning stays a priority. And being able to jump into a specific course to help tackle a new task can help dispel any worries about whether you have the skills in place to do a good job.

ENGAGE WITH OTHER WOMEN

Women still only hold a quarter (26.7%) of technology jobs in 2023, so it can be hard to find others who truly understand the challenges we face in the industry, and who they can share experiences with.

So, women in tech must engage with each other to find encouragement and comradery. If you are a woman trying to climb the ladder in the tech industry, it is key to support other female workers, and let them support you. It is much easier to feel discouraged and become burnt out trying to enter the industry when doing it alone.

An easy way to connect with other women is to join organisations or networks supporting women in tech – either by creating one within your organisation, or joining an industry-wide group.

Looking for mentors in the form of more experienced women in the industry can also be a great way to learn and find a role model, and working with schools and universities can also help to encourage the next generation too.

Women currently represent only 15% of Engineering and 19% of Computer Studies graduates in the UK, but seeing other women follow their passion and support each other to overcome the barriers in their way can inspire the next generation. Younger girls need role models to look up to, successful female mentors they admire, who fuel their enthusiasm for tech and encourage them to work hard to succeed in the industry. Another effective way to spark young girls’ interest in tech is through interactive games and free online resources offered at school to help them learn about STEM and build their skills. These activities can help girls aspiring to work in tech gain the confidence they need to combat imposter syndrome from the outset.

CELEBRATING YOUR OWN SUCCESSES

Seventy seven percent of tech leaders are men, but this does not mean women are less capable of holding leadership positions – it simply means female workers are often subject to gender biases and fewer opportunities. As a result, women are 14% less likely to be offered a promotion every year. Unfortunately, these stats fuel women’s imposter syndrome.

However, change is happening. The UK government has reached its 2025 target of 40% of board seats at the biggest listed companies held by women three years ahead of schedule. This shows businesses are increasingly aware of the importance of attracting and retaining female employees, and we can expect the UK workforce, and more specifically the tech workforce to make more progress on gender diversity in the future.

It’s also essential to make sure women understand that they deserve to hold senior positions and sit on the board.

So, celebrating women’s own successes is key. Women must acknowledge what they have already learned to dispel fears that they are imposters. For example, from Women in Engineering Day to Ada Lovelace Day, we’re increasingly seeing a growing number of initiatives rightly recognising the pivotal role that women play in engineering and the wider STEM industries as a whole. These special occasions are key to tackling imposter syndrome.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Tech is a very competitive sector. There are many talented people who have worked hard to break into the field, so it can be difficult to stand out, especially if imposter syndrome is making you doubt your abilities. Now, women must focus on building their skills, finding networks and celebrating their success in order to develop confidence and know they are worthy of a place in tech.

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