Can we be real for a minute?

My #hypewoman and best friend sent me, as she often does, a really great article this morning from The New Yorker magazine.

I started thinking about previous blogs I’ve written, what I want to write in the future and a new topic for the week. Of course, I’ve thought about who I’m writing for. To be sure, it’s being refined all the time. But I had a bit of an epiphany today and the BFF put it so well (like she also does really often, because I think in another life, she was a sage). “You have to follow your muse. Write what sits on your shoulder.”

I’ve written some informative and useful blogs about accounting-related topics, and I’ll do more of those, but what really gets me jazzed is gender equity and doing my best to ally with those who are othered. So today, buckle up buttercup. We’re going to talk about it.

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Imposter syndrome: is it really a white lady problem?

Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes began talking about the feelings of inadequacy in a group of about one hundred fifty “successful” women in the late 1970s in a paper entitled “The Impostor Phenomenon in High Achieving Women: Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention.” Much less of a “study” than an observation, the idea took hold with the rise of social media.

Ask nearly any woman who has achieved some success, and she’ll likely describe feeling as though she didn’t really “earn it” or she’s a “fraud.” Personally, I can count numerous friends and colleagues who have felt this at their core.

But Leslie Jamison, in The New Yorker article, points out that for women of color, the feeling is more that their competence or intelligence is being underestimated as opposed to being taken for granted. Lisa Factora-Borchers, a Filipinx American author and activist, said, Whenever I’d hear white friends talk about impostor syndrome, I’d wonder, “How can you think you’re an impostor when every mold was made for you? When you see mirror reflections of yourself everywhere, and versions of what your success might look like?”

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Who’s really pulling the strings?

In 2021, Ruchika Tulshyan and Jodi-Ann Burey published an article in The Harvard Business Review entitled “Stop Telling Women They Have Imposter Syndrome.” It’s become one of the most widely shared articles on the site and for good reason. It lays bare what I think is the root cause of the problem. If white women are demanding a “seat at the table,” and women of color are saying that “the table is rotten,” I’d like to ask, “how do we create a new table and make sure the termite problem is exterminated?”

The most fascinating and enlightening theory of Jamison’s piece, IMO, is that these feelings of inadequacy arise from “threshold-crossing—from one social class to another, one culture to another, one vocation to another.” This is the crux of it. When we move outside of what is known and comfortable, we feel like we’re outside of where we “belong.”

Where does that leave us?

Late last year, I started following Erin Gallagher on LinkedIn and, good lord has this woman given me courage! She’s saying the hard, unspoken, ugly things that have hindered women for so long. I know that if we as women can see that it’s classism that ultimately is keeping us “in our place” and if we can stop infighting, backstabbing and hype each other, we literally could rule the world.

The world would be so much better for it.

4 responses to “Digging into the authentic shit”

  1. Jody McCasland Avatar
    Jody McCasland

    Great post and right on the money.

  2. Cheryl Easter Avatar
    Cheryl Easter

    You nailed it! If women lifted and supported each other, we would accomplish so much more.

  3. Traci Mumm Avatar
    Traci Mumm

    I’ve never understood why women, who possess the power to run the world, don’t run the world. How wonderful it would be if we took just a moment to change the stories we tell ourselves.

  4. […] posted a blog called “Digging into the authentic shit,” a couple of weeks ago. I discuss the struggles of women empowering each other and overcoming […]

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