August 2, 2020

To the Working Woman: You Belong there, too.

Ryoji Iwata/Unsplash

Often times as women, we second guess ourselves and our ability.

No matter how intelligent, successful, powerful, and driven we may be, we still doubt our abilities. This is especially true among women in the workplace.

So, we’ve earned our degree or degrees, we’ve landed our dream job, but somehow we still feel as though we don’t deserve it.

Perhaps you believe you’re just there to fill a diversity requirement, because you got lucky, or because your bosses believe you are more capable than you actually you are. 

You are not alone.

There is a term for this feeling, and it’s called imposter syndrome. This condition is defined as the idea that we’ve probably only succeeded due to luck, and not because of our talent or qualifications. An estimated 70 percent of people experience imposter syndrome at least once in their lifetime.

Women—especially women of color—are more likely to experience this condition. According to an article on BBC.com, when we experience systematic oppression and are taught that we are “less than” and don’t deserve success, we often experience imposter syndrome. 

Not seeing representation in the workplace also contributes to feeling like we don’t belong.

Careers such as software development, construction, financial analysis, and architecture (to name a few) are still largely dominated by men. Women only make up only 18.7 percent of software developers, 9.9 percent of construction workers, and 25.5 percent of architects.

Simply put, representation matters. If we see more people in the workplace who look like us, we are more likely to feel like we belong there.

In the meantime, as we work toward progress and equality, here are three tips on how to push through and take charge of your career.

1. Trust your abilities.

Chances are, you are more than qualified to be in your current position or an aspiring position.

You are either earning the degree, have the work experience, or are receiving the proper training for your field of choice. All of these, separate and combined, give you the ability to be successful in your position.

You have to trust in yourself and your abilities.

You were chosen for a reason, and that reason is more than your gender, skin color, or age. You, too, deserve a seat at the table. 

2. Assert yourself.

When you need to, say something. Don’t let your voice be stifled. Your voice, your idea, and your opinion matters to the majority.

Trust that you’ll know when it’s time to speak up.

When you experience something that isn’t right, step forward, and speak out. You’ll be surprised how you can effect change when you lend your voice. However, as the old saying goes, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.”

3. Ask for what you want. 

Whether it is a raise, a promotion, a new desk, or the corner office, ask for it.

Part of imposter syndrome is not believing that we are worthy of certain things because of our belief that we are not qualified enough.

If you need a sign, this is it. Go get what’s rightfully yours. 

These are just a few tips on how you can take charge in your career, and kick the “I don’t belong here” attitude.

Just because the numbers don’t reflect a large number of women in certain fields or offices doesn’t mean we don’t belong.

We have to keep showing up to create change. 


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