Impostor Syndrome

In January, Maricopa Community Colleges held the 2020 Faculty convocation.  There was a lot of discussion about student success, supporting our students, and inclusiveness.  I was fortunate enough to present at the convocation and in doing the research I did to prepare for that presentation, I came across some interesting points that I would like to share with you, gentle readers, in my first blog post for the Write 6×6 Challenge.  

I would like to talk to you about impostor syndrome.  

The tendency to “discount or diminish the obvious evidence of our abilities” is called impostor syndrome, impostorism, or impostor phenomenon.   It is an inability to self-assess and is tied to diminished self-confidence and self-efficacy. How did I connect this to the convocation?  Well, we were discussing student success and inclusiveness and my research took me in an unexpected direction.  Impostor syndrome “disproportionately affects women and minority groups,” leading some researchers to identify impostor syndrome as a symptom of inequity. That said, the most recent studies suggest that anyone can be affected.  Impostor syndrome is more common in STEM and male-dominated fields.  It is more common when the person is not a part of a larger group or feels left out of the group.  And, it is a condition that affects some students and some teachers. Mature students can suffer from impostor syndrome, especially if they are first time attendees or have a sense that they don’t belong. Students who suffer from impostor syndrome can struggle with their courses, make poor career choices, and can become socially isolated.  It has even been linked to burnout, in part because “owning and celebrating achievements is essential if you want to avoid burnout”. As impostor syndrome occurs despite external validation and feedback, no one is immune. 

However, my research also found that our institution has the means to support these students academically and personally. Students who are offered support through mentors, professors, and institutional programs, are less likely to experience impostor syndrome.  Building positive relationships with the students has a direct impact on their academic performance, and minimizes the impact of impostor syndrome.  If you see a student who seems to be struggling with the issue of impostorism or find yourself falling into that pattern, reach out for assistance. Don’t try to go it alone.

I don’t know about you, but I have had several students over the years who have clearly fallen victim to the cycle of impostor syndrome.  I wish I had known a little more and had better ideas about how to help them. So, using the information I have found in my research, I have created this infographic to better explain the issues of impostor syndrome and how to defeat the phenomenon. The infographic has clickable elements for even more information. 

In case the embed code doesn’t work, here is the link.

I hope you have found this helpful. As an aside, I am setting a personal goal to create an interactive element, or an infographic, for each of the topics I work on for the 6×6 challenge.  That should make things a little more colorful for me as I am working. Let’s see how I do. See you next week.

A Few Resources Used

  1.  Cox, Elizabeth. “What is Imposter Syndrome and How Can You Combat it?” 28 August  2018. Retrieved from
  2. Ford, Knatokie. “Defeating the inner imposter that keeps us from being successful.” Tedx Talks. 22 February 2017. Retrieved from
  3.  Le, Ling (2019) “Unpacking the Imposter Syndrome and Mental Health as a Person of Color First Generation College Student within Institutions of Higher Education,” McNair Research Journal SJSU: Vol. 15 , Article 5. Available at:
  4.  Mullangi S, Jagsi R. “Imposter Syndrome: Treat the Cause, Not the Symptom.” JAMA. 2019; vol 322 issue 5, 403–404. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.9788
  5. Parkman, Anna. (2016). The Imposter Phenomenon in Higher Education: Incidence and Impact. Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice. Vol. 16. 51-60.
  6. Pinto-Powell. “Impostor Syndrome: Not Exclusive to Women.” Inside Higher Ed. 20 December 2018. Retrieved from
  7. Preville, Philip. “How to Help Students Overcome Impostor Syndrome.” Trends in Higher Education. Top Hat Blog.  12 June 2019. Retrieved from
  8. Wilding, Melody J. “5 Different Types of Imposter Syndrome (and 5 Ways to Battle Each One)”  The Muse. Retrieved from
  9. Young, Valerie. “Thinking your way out of Imposter Syndrome.” Ted Archive. 5 June 2017. Retrieved from


One thought on “Impostor Syndrome”

  1. Good morning!

    Interesting! When I saw your title, I thought of it from the faculty perspective.

    Thanks for sharing the infographic and the References!


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