Imposter Syndrome and Gender: Do men suffer from imposter syndrome?

Jan 18, 2024

Have you ever felt like you're not as competent as others perceive you to be? Or perhaps you've achieved success but can't shake the feeling that you're just lucky and not truly deserving? If so, you might be experiencing what's commonly known as imposter syndrome. And guess what? You're not alone!

Imposter syndrome doesn't discriminate based on gender. Both men and women can grapple with it at various stages of their lives and careers. However, the way it manifests and evolves can differ between the two.

For men, imposter syndrome often rears its head when they transition into leadership roles, such as becoming a manager for the first time. Suddenly, the pressure to perform at a higher level, coupled with the responsibility of guiding a team, can lead to feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. It's like stepping into a new pair of shoes that feel a size too big, and you're constantly worried about stumbling.

On the other hand, for women, imposter syndrome tends to intensify the higher they climb on the career ladder. Despite their accomplishments and qualifications, they may still harbour doubts about whether they truly belong in positions of power and authority. This phenomenon is exacerbated by societal expectations, ingrained biases, and the persistent glass ceiling that hovers above many industries.

Read more about this in the Imposter Syndrome Report.

Picture this: You've worked tirelessly to reach a leadership position, breaking through numerous barriers along the way. Yet, despite your undeniable competence, there's a nagging voice in your head whispering, "Do you really belong here? Are you as good as they say you are?" It's like fighting an invisible enemy that constantly undermines your confidence and achievements.


So, why does imposter syndrome affect men and women differently? One reason could be attributed to societal norms and stereotypes. From a young age, boys are often encouraged to be assertive, competitive, and confident, whereas girls may be socialised to be more modest and accommodating. These gendered expectations can influence how individuals perceive their own capabilities and worth.

Moreover, women may face additional hurdles in male-dominated industries, where they're subjected to scrutiny, scepticism, and double standards. The lack of representation and support can exacerbate feelings of impostorism, making it a constant battle to prove oneself worthy of respect and recognition.

But here's the good news: Recognising that imposter syndrome is a shared experience can be empowering. It means you're not alone in your struggles, and there are strategies you can employ to overcome it.

  1. Acknowledge your accomplishments and give yourself credit where it's due. Imposter syndrome often thrives on self-doubt and negative self-talk, so challenge those thoughts with evidence of your achievements and capabilities.
  2. Seek support from mentors, colleagues, or professional networks. Surrounding yourself with people who believe in your abilities can provide validation and perspective when imposter feelings start to creep in.
  3. Remember that it's okay to ask for help and take risks. Embrace opportunities for growth and learning, even if they seem daunting at first. The journey to overcoming imposter syndrome is not linear, but with perseverance and self-compassion, you can rewrite the narrative and thrive in your career.

Imposter syndrome knows no bounds when it comes to gender. Whether you're a man or a woman, navigating the complexities of self-doubt and insecurity is a shared experience. By acknowledging the impact of gender on imposter syndrome and implementing strategies to combat it, we can create a more inclusive and supportive environment where everyone feels empowered to succeed.


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