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Imposter Syndrome: Not for women only

Imposter syndrome is not just a female issue, it may significantly impact men. Societal expectations and personal experiences may contribute to imposter syndrome among men, potentially affecting their behavior and performance in the workplace.

The Gender Divide in Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is a phenomenon where individuals doubt their accomplishments and fear being exposed as fraud, despite evidence of their competence. While traditionally associated more with women, recent discussions and research have brought to light that men are equally susceptible, though they might experience and respond to these feelings differently due to societal expectations and personal coping mechanisms.


Men experiencing imposter syndrome might face additional pressure from societal norms that equate success with competence and professional achievement. This can lead to behaviors such as overworking to meet impossible standards or avoiding new challenges due to fear of failure. When faced with negative feedback or high-pressure situations, some men might exhibit increased anxiety, reduced effort, or even worse performance as a defense mechanism or self-handicapping strategy, hoping to use lack of effort as an excuse for anticipated poor outcomes.

When the Pressure's On, Men May Struggle More Than Women

Interestingly, research suggests that under pressure, imposter syndrome may hit men harder than women, possibly due to these traditional gender norms. A study indicated that male students with high imposter feelings responded to negative feedback and high accountability with increased anxiety and a tendency toward worse performance. In contrast, female students with high imposter feelings responded to similar conditions by increasing their effort and showing improved performance.

To address imposter syndrome, it’s crucial for men to recognize and question the validity of imposter thoughts, assess the sources of these feelings, and reclaim confidence through reflection on strengths and accomplishments. Mindfulness practices and seeking therapy can also be beneficial in overcoming these internalized doubts.

5 Steps to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

Here are five steps men can take to address and overcome imposter syndrome:

  1. Acknowledge Your Feelings: Recognize and accept the feelings of imposter syndrome when they arise. It’s essential to understand that these feelings are common and don’t reflect your true capabilities or worth.
  2. Challenge Negative Thoughts: When you notice self-doubt creeping in, challenge those negative thoughts. Ask yourself whether the evidence supports your feelings of being a fraud. More often than not, you’ll find that your fears of inadequacy are not based on fact.
  3. Share Your Experiences: Open up about your feelings with trusted friends, mentors, or colleagues. You’ll likely find that others have similar experiences, which can reduce the shame and isolation associated with imposter syndrome.
  4. Celebrate Your Successes: Keep a record of your accomplishments and the positive feedback you’ve received. Review it regularly to remind yourself of your capabilities and successes, especially when you’re feeling self-doubt.
  5. Seek Professional Help: If imposter syndrome is significantly impacting your well-being or performance, consider seeking the support of a therapist. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and other therapeutic techniques can be effective in changing the thought patterns that contribute to imposter syndrome.

By incorporating these steps into their lives, men can start to dismantle the imposter syndrome’s influence and embrace their achievements with confidence.

Empowering Men to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is a shared human experience that transcends gender, despite often being misrepresented as a predominantly female issue. Men are equally prone to these intrusive thoughts of self-doubt and feelings of unworthiness.

By taking deliberate steps—such as acknowledging feelings, challenging negative beliefs, sharing experiences, celebrating achievements, and seeking professional guidance—men can navigate through the mazes of imposter syndrome. It’s through such proactive engagement that one can dismantle the internalized narratives of fraudulence and step into a space of genuine self-acceptance and confidence. The journey to overcoming imposter syndrome is not a solitary struggle; it is a path that we can tread together, creating a supportive environment where all individuals, irrespective of gender, can thrive unencumbered by unfounded self-doubt.