Human Factors in Engineering

VST04 Fear and (Self) Loathing in IT – A Healthy Discussion on Imposter Syndrome


9:15am - 10:30am

Level: Introductory

Angela Dugan

Cloud Solution Architecture Manager


Many of us feel hesitant, perhaps even fearful about stepping into challenging roles, or even claiming credit we truly deserve. Whether we are at a business meeting, a team retrospective, a conference, or even from your cubicle chair, it's normal to occasionally fear speaking up and out with our team lest we be "found out" as someone who really doesn't belong, isn't smart/experienced enough, or who doesn't deserve to be there. If you're wondering if this talk is for you, consider the following questions:

  • Do you feel like no matter how much you study or prepare for a new challenge, that you'll just never be ready for it and that people are crazy to even trust you with real responsibilities?
  • Do you panic at the idea of asking for help when you get stuck on a challenging problem because everyone will think you have no idea what you're doing?
  • Do you beat yourself up minor mistakes, even if no one else noticed them?
  • Do you find yourself comparing yourselves to peers, friends, or maybe strangers and feeling that you just never seem to stack up?

If you answered yes to any (or maybe all) of these questions, you might be experiencing Imposter Syndrome. You may even recognize some of these behaviors in loved ones, coworkers, and friends. And it's not silly, trivial, or something you'll "just grow out of". Many people have been experiencing Imposter Syndrome since childhood. But when does this anxiety become unhealthy? Is Imposter Syndrome something we really even NEED to cure?

In this session, I'll share some of my own adventures in embracing my fears, learning to trust myself and others, getting comfortable with asking for help, and developing resilience. I'll also talk about the unexpected and very positive outcomes that followed taking the leap to embrace my "phoniness".

You will learn:

  • Understand what Imposter Syndrome really is
  • Recognizing when Imposter Syndrome is impacting you or others negatively
  • Ways to mitigate the challenges and embrace the advantages of occasionally feeling like a "phony"