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Transcript for August 25, 2017

>> Hello, everyone. I'm so happy to be here today. Thank you Dr. Digna [phonetic] for inviting me to be a part of the Brown Bag Series. I appreciate it very much. My topic for today is going to be looking at the Imposter Syndrome and its Relationship to Human Agency, and so I really have, when it comes to the topic, I really have far more questions than answers. But today, what I'm going to do is share with all of you a narrative that I've written to illustrate what that might look like or feel like from my own experience. And then, I will talk about some of the research that I have uncovered on Imposter Syndrome, and then talk about just some general ideas I have for how to approach the study of it because I do have the opportunity to work with a graduate student and an undergraduate student over this coming fall semester, and we will be researching this. And I see this as a really excellent way to kind of get in front of the study design and to anticipate some questions; so, I'm open to hearing from anybody who's listening about your questions, your ideas for the study, and I'll tell you a little bit about what that's going to look like on the back end what I talk about today. And so with that, I want to just start by saying I've always had a curiosity about matters of institutional inclusion and human agency.

So, when I look back on the research that I've done in my master's program, my Ph.D. program, and since then, I am very curious about how people come to see themselves as legitimate insiders of their institutions or programs or groups that they belong to. And I've always wondered about how that process happened. So, I'm very, very interested and very curious about that. And I'm also curious about people who experience their own sense of human agency, and so in that sense of the ability to, or the sense that we can make a difference in our circumstances. And so what does that look like? And my research has focused in particular on gender, so I've looked at women and human agency in particular context. My research on my doctoral dissertation actually looked at women who chose natural childbirth and then chose to have their children inside of hospitals and how they navigated kind of this more organic approach, right, to have their way inside of this institutional power structure and some of the consequences that unfolded as result of that. And so, human agency is something I'm always fascinated by and how do people acquire their own sense of that.

And so, I'm going to move into reading my narrative, and I'll start with that, and then I'll show the research on imposter syndrome. But that sort of sets the context of how it is that I have come into understanding it and being interested in the imposter syndrome as well. And so, for anybody who has a question as we move forward today, please do not hesitate to ask, and I'll take your questions as they come in. You ready? All right. So, here's the narrative that I wrote. I'm not exactly sure when I first experienced the feeling of being an imposter during my higher educational journey, but I vividly remember the first meeting for my MA Orientation program. I'd been admitted to the master's in Communication at San Diego State University. It was the mid-1980s. I graduated with my BA in Communication in June, was married in July, and in August, I was sitting in the room ready to be oriented. So, with so many pressing questions, I was too terrified to ask. The stifling August afternoon was no match for the push out windows, admitting no air flow into the small hot classroom in Hefner Hall. A few research superstar graduates of the program were delivering a motivational talk to our new cohort, young men we all deeply admired, who had left their positive mark on the program. I wondered if I could ever leave a positive mark on the program.

On my desk was my red SBSU spiral notebook and pen at the ready. I planned to write down everything so I wouldn't forget a single detail. And while I sat in my seat, just like the 20 other new teaching associates, I was so anxious that my stomach was in knots. I had a hard time concentrating on what anyone was saying and really wanted to run out of that room, but I stayed. I wondered if there'd been some mistake. How could it be that I was in the same program as students that I admired so much? How could I be sitting among this group of top performing students and former top debaters from our undergraduate days? I did my best to not appear anxious, but I became convinced that I was admitted because there was some clerical mistakes or because someone had taken pity on me. This was despite my own positive performance in the speech and debate world and despite my own success as an undergraduate student. I had a hard time making eye contact with my professor, Dr. Jan Anderson. I wondered if she could see the fear that I was experiencing despite my best efforts to cover it up. Fast forward 25 years later, I was a staff member in the Division of Student Affairs at a large public research university, sitting in the back row of a seminar entitled, "Imposter Syndrome." I was curious about the topic and wanted to learn more; that's why I was there, and sitting in the back of the large lecture hall with hundreds of students and faculty, I heard my story unfold as the facilitator shared imposter syndrome's characteristics, impacts, and strategies for overcoming.

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One tear streamed down my face as she described the ways in which imposter syndrome can hinder the progress of our careers and how it affects both men and women, people across all majors, all professions, and all socioeconomic levels. I finally had a name for what I'd experienced throughout my entire educational journey. And so this narrative speaks to situate the hero or reader inside of the actual experience of imposter syndrome. And so, I'm very interested in uncovering, identifying, and recreating other narratives to bring leaders into an understanding of what it is like to experience that sense of imposterism. And so that's really the research that I'm hoping to get after this fall with these students. And so that's the narrative, and so what I'd like to do is to transition into some of the research on imposter syndrome that I've been doing over the summer so that you all have an understanding about what that looks like as well and what is being said about imposter syndrome. So, the term, "imposter syndrome" dates back to 1978 with Clance and Imes initial study. It's a landmark study done on imposter syndrome. They wrote an article called, "The Imposter Phenomenon in High Achieving Women; Dynamics of Therapeutic Intervention," and they described this phenomenon as an internal experience of intellectual [inaudible] which appears to be particularly prevalent and intense among a select sample of high achieving women.

The authors found that although women were perceived to be fully capable and successful professionals by others that the women themselves were unable to see themselves in the same capacity and that most women in that study devalued their contributions, which led to their success, and instead attributed it to simple luck or good timing. And so we see with imposter syndrome that there's an inability to internalize positive performance and positive feedback in this phenomenon. And so, they began to reinforce that, it's Hutchins in 2015 saying that individuals that reproduce high imposter phenomenon attribute this failure to internal traits that associated success to external circumstances. And so, imposterism, as it is also called, is a kind of performance then, and we think about performing a particular kind of self where the imposter is actually impersonating their own idea of a person who is competent. And so, I mean, I think if we just look at that, and like pause for a moment, and we see, we'll consider that idea, right, that people in their professional lives are impersonating their notion of what it means to be competent in their spaces. It doesn't, we don't have to work too hard to see the kind of stress and anxiety that can be associated with this kind of performance, right, social performance at work.

And so, that helped to kind of begin to conceptualize what imposter syndrome is, and I think of it too as like an invisible barrier between you or the imposter and the profession or profession they envision themselves becoming. I've said there, it's almost like there's this sense that there's something keeping you from actually achieving it, so you have to perform [inaudible]. And Karen, we were talking about fake it till you make it. I think one of the challenges though with imposter syndrome is that there's never the making it part, right, that the making it part doesn't arrive, or we have an idea that it's going to arrive in a particular way, and that doesn't materialize, and so we are still, you know, considering like how we're going to fake it. And when is the making it part going to show up? And so, it's kind of like, and I think about, you know, kind of like this recurring dream where we're running after something we're never going to catch, right. And so there's that sense that you're going after something, and you're presenting yourself in a particular way, and it's never going, you're never going to get there, ultimately.

So, imposter syndrome can mediate how we show up in our work, particularly in what we perceive as high stakes situations. And I have my own kind of theorizing around this now. Views, I think, if somebody experiences imposter syndrome, everything is high stakes, and so there's an inability to discern what is and is not really important. And so, because of that lack of determinance, it seems that what folks here engage in or who experience this do is elevate everything to the level of high stakes. And so then, we don't have to look too far to wonder about what kind of anxiety that career imposed on somebody who approaches work and life that way, if that makes sense. And so that also I think maybe it's the development of our relationships with others who are in that same state, the same workspace, or the same running space that we find ourselves and impact of somewhere alone with ourselves as we produce the work. And I think, in other words, it has the possibility of affecting all aspects of our work experience intrapersonal, and so who we are and how we see ourselves interpersonally work with other people and communally; so, programmatically, or kind of in the larger community that we are functioning in professionally, if that makes sense. And so we see how this can have impacts at all those different levels.

>> Yes.

>> Oh, yeah?

>> So, you, when you said you talked about it, you know, it seemed to suggest that gender is maybe a key factor or is the, you know, lack of role models, or is it like some other factor, or is imposter syndrome basically a pervasive thing that all students experience at some level?

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>> Yeah. I think that's a great question, and in this presentation I will get to who is impacted, and there's a debate. So, if you take a look at the literature, as the literature will say; in fact, here's a book by Valerie Young, called "The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women," and the book is written primarily for and about women, but early on in the book she recognizes that it probably impacts everybody. And so I think it's not exclusive to women, though if you read the anecdotal literature, so in the Chronicle of Higher Education in [inaudible] and other publications, educational publications like that, people who will make the case that it impacts everyone. But I think there's this assumption that it affects women more than men, even though some studies have shown that it's 50/50.

>> Okay.

>> And so I think, I think, you know, based, like to your question, I think the jury's out on who is impacted, but everyone I speak to, when I tell them I'm interested in this research, everyone says, "Oh, I have that." We all see no other way. And I will get to more of that where it is wrote in the presentation today as well. Does that answer your question? Okay, great. Okay. So, Ku Ku [phonetic] and Alexander argue that a high level of imposer phenomenon limits the acceptance of success as an outcome of one's own ability and influences feelings of self-doubt and anxiety, and I think that may be an understatement.

[ Inaudible Speaker ]

>> Yeah, they argue that a high level of imposter phenomenon limits the acceptance of success as an outcome of one's own ability and influences feelings of self-doubt and anxiety. And so, there's almost this reluctance to want to take credit for one's own work or dismissing it as not enough or not a big deal, you know. So, I think, you know, what does that; there's also implications for that, right. There's implications for leadership to help folks understand when that's the case, right; celebrating successes, right, which we do. And so, you know, I think how can we help people to make sense of what counts and what doesn't count in the realm of work? I mean, everything does count [inaudible]. I need to understand why it's hard to understand what is and is not, you know, the thing that we have to give 100% to on a day to day basis. And so, this sense, this sense of, or inability to accept our success as an outcome of our own work and our own talent and our own competency really does foster anxiety, right. It also hinders; in this case, women's career trajectory, and I would probably say that anybody here experiences as it could hinder their career trajectories. Collet, in 2013, argues that imposterism plays a significant role in explaining women's downshifting during graduate school.

And downshifting is this idea that women may enter into Ph.D. programs thinking they're going to move into the tenure track and be intentional about pursuing some high and lofty goals; and then, during grad school, downshift to, well, maybe not; maybe that's not what I'm going to do; maybe I'll teach instead. You know, I don't really like to make that comparison because I don't think there's anything wrong with teaching. So, that's not my point here, but I think in the realm of the academy, we look at research as kind of a higher level position, and so we see downshifting occurring. And so, what this makes me think about, of course, is the glass ceiling in higher education. It's like we see this as a decision that's made, and I'm interested in finding out how women might explain that, and this could actually inform the trajectory of my own study because I'm interested in those kinds of decisions that women make based on that, if that makes sense. So, downshifting, I think, is a very interesting sense, especially when we think about those who enter into Ph.D. programs who are pursing, you know, something that's very rigorous that they're going through in order to get to the other side and to be able to do something with that. And so what we're seeing is that during that timeframe, many women opt to downshift and not stay with that initial, you know, loftier goal.

>> So, we think if they got admitted into Ph.D. programs, the [inaudible] has probably quite a bit of academic success, and you would think that there's empirical data that they could draw on to show that I can do this. But yes, there's that internal voice keeps coming back as the symptoms of what you say.

>> Yeah. I mean, that's an excellent observation that you would think that the question is, or the comment is that if women are already accepted into these prestigious programs, they've already demonstrated like kind of, in fact, that they have the credentials and the ability and the competence to move forward and then to move on to whatever is next. And I think what you're saying then makes it even more important that we take a look at this because, you know, I think about implications for, like just if we looked at it from Human Resources perspective, we're not making the most of the challenge that exists if we don't tap into this and deal with it directly. And I mean, I have visions for what we could do with the information that we find about advising practices or mentoring practices or, you know, I think it needs, I think it's a process that needs to be disrupted, to some extent, in higher education and to be more mindful that this exists. And everybody's always really surprised to hear about it because they think they're alone in it, and I think it's probably very pervasive. But I also think, I also think to that point, that's one of the problems with this construct or this concept. I think that if everybody says "me too," then, it may not have the kind of explanatory power that we want in the concepts that we're looking at. And so, that's a concern I have just kind of in the background reminding me, you know, do I just take this and run with it; is there something else that's at work here? I don't know because, you know, often imposterism is not studied in isolation. It's often studied in conjunction with other variables like anxiety and depression and things like that.

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>> You know, maybe through operationalizing and through defining it because I'm sure every student has some level of doubt, you know, so at what point does it really become like a syndrome or a setting what you're saying here?

>> Yeah, as it impacts ways of [inaudible].

>> Yeah, and so, yeah, but so there, it's kind of like, if you've seen, there's like a question, a list of questions for Attention Deficit Disorder, and so you're kind of left up to, you know, teachers, parents, you know, and if the students, older active students, that look at this, then this and this. If you have enough of that, then you have it, right. And that's kind of the same with imposter syndrome. There's a questionnaire you can take. You can take it online, or it's a series of questions. If you say yes to that, you probably lean into it, or you can actually get a score on it. But I don't know how valid the measure is. I'm not sure about that. So, that leads me to want to look at this from a narrative perspective to say let's see into it so that maybe we can shed more light on what exactly it is. Does that make sense? So, I think there's some opportunities, despite how much research has already occurred, to get into it a little bit deeper and to see, let the people who experience it tell us more about that experience so that maybe we can ask some different and new questions about it. That's something I'm interested in doing. So, yes, there are talks about downshifting and the impact that that may have, and so the part of that too, and one of the things I think is really important to note that, we might think, we might be inclined to think, based on downshifting, that there's some evidence in the world of that person, that student that is suggesting that they aren't going to do well, and that is typically not the case. But this typically is happening with high-achieving students; and so, despite the data or evidence that they ae performing well.

And so there's an inability or reluctance to consider positive feedback and have it integrated into how that person moves forward. And so, I think there's something there, right. There's like an unwillingness to see the self in a more positive light or in a different light for some reason. I'm not sure exactly what's happening there. This can impact on salary negotiations. You can see how that can easily happen there, right. So, to not engage in those or to be willing to apply for jobs that are below what you would think that person would apply for, and other things like over-preparing and over-working. And so, I think the bottom line here is that when you feel like an imposter, like you're not, you know, fit in the world that you're in, you're prone to undervalue yourself and, you know, then there's like whatever will follow that, right, the things that follow that. And so, going back to your question, Dr. Digna, who is impacted by this? And so, I read Valerie Young's, she's the author of this book, "Secret Thoughts of Successful Women." I love what she says because she says, "Feelings of ineptness and fraudulence can strike any thoughtful, reflective person with a pulse." So, who is impacted? Maybe we can say that this phenomenon can impact just about everyone. And so, with that, Sue Wick, in her book, "Career Advice for the Life Scientists," says that many factors can contribute to the phenomenon, including coming from underrepresented groups. Introversion is something she argues can have an impact on this. She says, "Both men and women are vulnerable to it, though it is more common among women." And so that is part of that debate as well. And so, what we know is successful folks tend to be the ones who suffer. You know, anecdotally, I had, when I was working at another large private research institution, I worked with Ph.D. students and postdoctoral students, and I've heard from them on this topic.

And of course, for me, because I believe that I have imposter syndrome, I'm working with these chemistry Ph.D. students, and I'm thinking, who am I to work with you, right. And so then, to hear those folks talk about how they have it, I can't, you know, I cannot, I can't be silent anymore about it, right, but to me I have to keep learning and relearning that this is not an isolated experience, that people who are doing, you know, are in majors that are incredibly challenging, like Chemistry, and other areas, are impacted as well. And so, if they're impacted, why should I be surprised when I hear anybody say it? But, so people who are successful tend to be the ones who suffer, and so logic goes like this, in order to feel like you're faking it, you need to have already reached a certain level, and you're disciplined. So, if you're pretending, it means you've gotten enough feedback, and you have succeeded enough to get into positions that would make you feel uncomfortable. So, that's kind of at the heart of what imposter syndrome is about. So, there is debate also when we talk about what are the fields of study where we see imposter syndrome show up as well. And so, [Inaudible] Friedman, in 2013, argues that it's particularly common among those in tech and science fields, where there are strict educational requirements, where it is tough to fake knowledge. On the other hand, Collet, in 2013, argues that it is the social sciences and humanities where we see students who are more susceptible to imposterism because their work time and obligations are less delineated than those in the higher sciences; and we have conflicting argumentation here, right. So, on the one hand, they're saying that in the [inaudible] they're more rigorous measures of what constitutes knowledge, and in the social sciences and humanities, where it's a little less clearly defined or less objectively defined, you see more examples of imposterism there. I don't know which it is, personally.

[ Inaudible Speaker ]

>> Or both ends, yeah. It's both ends.

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>> Yes.

>> But I do think, so in other words, everyone is vulnerable, right, depending on the knowledge. The way in which they're conceiving what knowledge, what counts as knowledge? I think if we're not clear about what that means, right, we see it as something outside of ourselves. And so, there's a couple of strategies that a number of authors argue in favor of, and I'm very interested in these strategies, and I'm interested in putting these together, and I want to share these with the academic community. And so, I didn't draw from all the ones that I have uncovered, but I wanted to share a few here for the benefit of all you in the room and anybody listening; and so, here are some of the suggestions about how to navigate it. So, first of all, spirituality and excellent mentorship can curb the effects of imposterism, according to Rick, and that we ought to expect to feel like an imposter sometimes, that it is expected in certain situations. And so, where we might show up and may be presenting research in particular contexts or having to give presentations, I often wonder because as somebody who's interested in communication, if you're up in a public speaking situation, who doesn't feel uncomfortable in those situations. I think that is such a good example of how it feels. But you know, people who have imposterism and were feeling like that, that level of anxiety in other spaces where they have to show up as competent or be experts.

>> So, tell me, what are we saying is to help kind of normalize the experience, and I mean, like if you have a new student orientation, should we be talking about this?

>> Yeah. So, the question is if we have new student orientation, should we be talking about imposter syndrome? Yes. We did talk about it in our --

>> Yes, we kind of laid that out there.

>> Yeah, we did.

>> And where is it that, I'm kind of going back to what you said earlier that, you know, everybody feels [inaudible], right, I mean, to some extent. But where is it that it becomes a barrier to actually pursuing what you want to just do, you know?

>> Yeah. And so how do we find that line?

>> Yeah. Or is there a line in how to tabulate just the individual's, you know, competence and self-efficacy and, you know, those kind of developmental components of how we develop as an adult? You know, how much of that is just a normal part of what we experience because as you said, everybody experiences this to some degree or another. Where does it become a barrier for, you know, result in such anxiety that becomes a bigger barrier. You know, so it's like there's this, it's almost like a continuum, and when it gets to this point, wow, then it's a real problem, right, because it pulls you back.

>> Yeah. So, that is, that's an excellent question that we ought to be taking a look at in this, right. And so, how does it, how is it different just from kind of what we would expect, right? And so in this solution, expect to feel like an imposter sometimes, but we shouldn't expect that we should feel a sense of mastery or competence 24/7, you know, 365 days a year, right. So, expect that there are going to be moments when we aren't going to be centered in our sense of competence that you expected through the times. I think that's a reasonable thing. Engage in self-promotion. This is very difficult to do for many people to, you know, if you think about interviewing, you have to engage in a sense of self-advocacy, and so how do we help people learn how to engage in self-advocacy? And so, you know, I think when we think about these solutions, it's not just for the person, right. But, like, hey, imposter, it's all on you to figure this out, how to fix yourself. But to have our systems of education aware enough to understand that this exists, and it's pervasive enough to say, "We're going to build that into, you know, what we do in our programs." You know, particularly, and since the research suggests that as the stakes get higher, we see increasing incidences of imposter syndrome that we ought to be doing it at a minimum in ou graduate, you know, programs to foster, you know, how do you engage in self-advocacy? What am I good at? How do we help people identify that that is [inaudible], and then to actually speak it, which is very difficult to do for so many students?

And so, the other, one of the other solutions is to actively build relationships with people who support your academic or professional goals. And so, really, that's the idea of mentoring, and so how do we, you know, encourage folks to really build mentorships with other folks and maybe even learn to initiate those. But I also suspect that if they have that sense of imposter syndrome, it's going to be difficult to initiate that, and so how do we arrange for that? And so peer mentorships, you know, are something that you can build into graduate programs and things like that, to join our former professional network within your workspace or communities to begin to connect with other people so that we build that sense of community. Because I think one of the things that I'm seeing in the literature is that I'm seeing in the literature is that it seems very isolating. We can see how this is like, since I don't think I'm smart enough to be or confident enough to be with the people that I with, and I'm pretending there, then it's not likely that people want to spend their off time networking, right, because if there's just more imposterism, more of that performance, and so I think we can suggest that, but I think it's also something that may inspire more, a greater sense of that, you know, rather than to alleviate it, maybe unassuming [phonetic]. So, attending conferences and other things like that is another solution. The other thing is to not allow the experience of discomfort to mean that you are less intelligent, capable, or worthy. So, just because you feel uncomfortable doesn't mean that you don't belong. So, I think that's another idea, and then to reframe perfectionism.

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So, perfectionism is often at the heart of imposterism because the standard, there's some impossible crazy standard that we're trying to achieve, right, but may never be achieved. And so, if you think about that what you got here is what success looks like, and it's way out of my reach and probably everybody else's reach. But I'm going to use that as my benchmark with the [inaudible]. We'll never meet it, and so you come up feeling like, you know, you are coming up short. And so, helping to set realistic standards for performance that are acceptable and kind of learning, making the heart of one's kind of professional goals is to how do I make sense of this so that I don't always walk around with the sense that I didn't do well? So, I think those are some of the things that we can begin to do and that we can build into our programs and provide that kind of support. And I think I would say, particularly for people in transition, I think that people in transition, whether they're coming into a program of study, or whether they're moving into a new position, you know, for work, I think people in transition are highly vulnerable to imposterism in these spaces. So, how do we, I think, like you've adjusted [inaudible] enough to talk about it. You know, I think that's at a minimum that we should talk about it, but that we should be checking in to see, you know, this is probably going to show up for you, and to know that, I think it's, you know, the sense that what do other people define as their level of performance.

We don't talk about that. How do you know when you've done a really good job? Once you know that and some things are very easily measured. Like if you're in charge of generating grant money, the numbers will tell you whether you have achieved that. But if it's less tangible, right, if the outcomes are less tangible, like you're helping people feel welcome in our new master's program, that's a little bit harder to measure. I mean, I guess we could use surveys to look at that, but it's, you know, it's like, professionally, how do we set our standards for quality performance? What does that look like? And so, can we have a conversation about that? And so, I think we're -- I have created a number of my own observations related to imposer syndrome based on my reading of the literature and based on my own lived experiences and based on the experiences of others. And so I have just some kind of bullet points here that I want to touch on, and then I'll talk about the study that I want to do, and I hope we can get to discussing that. And so, you know, bottom line, I look at with imposter syndrome there's a sense of learning to act less intelligent and knowledgeable than a person is in order to fit in. That's part of it. There's a sense of, I think it's related to issues related to performance anxiety, and how I'm showing up, you know, is this enough? Is this going to be enough? Is this going to be acceptable to this community that I'm in? There's, I think, what comes with it is a lack of self-trust, and once, if you navigate in the moment, I think with respect to leadership, I think that there's a resistance to owning one's identity as a leader, but it's associated with imposter syndrome as well.

So, you can think about this idea of this performance, right, of impersonating what we think of as professional or competence that it would be difficult to lead from that place. And so, I think it has implications for leadership. I'm very interested in that. So, there's an inability to put one's work into context and comparison with others. So, how is what I'm doing, you know, how is my performance, or how I'm, it's a way of measuring my performance consistent with the way other people are looking at their performance because oftentimes our performance is very, we're alone. We're isolated with them, and lots of times people don't see what we produce necessarily. And so, how is it that my level of performance compares? I have no idea. And so we're left to wonder about what that is, and when we wonder, we can either say, well, it's probably just fine, or we can say, it's probably not fine. And so, that lack of understanding or having a context, I think, is part of this as well. I think there's implications for giving up on one's career aspirations, which we've heard already. I think part of it is being wired for perfectionism, and one [inaudible] obviously, in the solutions part, we have to deal with that. I think it might be related, as I said to the glass ceiling. I think, you know, when we think about the glass ceiling phenomenon that women experience, you know, and again, I'm reluctant to make the statement that it's self-imposed, but it could be partly self-imposed that we, you know, decide that we're going to give up on something before we get there because we think we're going to fail. And that's not anything new; that's not a new argument with respect to that, but I think it's, I think you'd imposter syndrome informs those in a different way. So, would that work here? I think there's some imagined expectation for self-knelling and for success, and I think in the Academy of what it means to know.

What does that mean? Really, what does it mean to know something; and to generate knowledge feels like a very sacred act for some, and I think it might seem intimidating to be somebody who does that, right, if you're not actively doing it. And maybe even [inaudible], even if you are actively doing it, it may seem like something, like the audacity to say this is how the world works; really, this is how it works. And so, I think coming to terms with that can be challenging also. I think there's a sense of wanting to avoid being criticized. So, running from feedback that is at all critical, I think that's associated with this as well. But any, I think there's a sensitivity to feedback that comes with imposterism, when, you know, what could happen, if you imagine somebody moving from a fear of feedback to an openness to feedback, and they might hear, like to say that part of the work that we're doing is always going to involve feedback and that we have to be able to take that criticism in developing a sense of resilience. So, I think that maybe there's a certain kind of a lack of resilience or a sensitivity to make it a feedback that goes along with this as well. I think it is also connected to the work on emotional labor. You think about people who experience this, and moving through their professional life this way and the tremendous work involved, showing up in those professional spaces over the course of the career. I don't know about you, but it makes my heart hurt [inaudible] for people.

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It's interesting that I have a mentor who, you know, in my experience, I look at other folks, and I think, well, they don't have it; they're fine; and I'm the only one who experiences this here. And so, you know, I can tell myself that very readily, and I have these mentors who I thought -- I'd never raised this issue with them until recently. And then, I've learned that they have had it too. Some have retired and, you know, some are still in their professional role, and I have to tell you that it has blown my mind to hear how it has been pervasive throughout their career and how it would have been really helpful for me to know that as a graduate student that this was something they experienced because then I would have known that it wasn't just me, right. But I think this performance begets other performances, and we almost, it's kind of part of, I'm going to write this down, kind of part of a narrative inheritance in the Academy that we seek to kind of pick that same performance up, Does that makes sense? That we can ensure it's that kind of, that same kind of narrative and then carry that forward, and we're passing that down to students instead of disrupting that cycle.

>> Is that a goal to researchers that you want to just kind of get the word out and more of the, you know, other individuals who maybe they identify with in some way, maybe gender [inaudible] like that in the background [inaudible] sort of packets and, you know, you think makes somebody more vulnerable to this that they likewise have gone through that experience?

>> Absolutely, sir. Do I want to get the word out about other sort of experiences with respect to gender, race, ethnicity, all of those factors, socioeconomic. I want to take a look at that, and so I think, and based on that question, I was thinking earlier today that I need to get some key demographic information when we do these interviews, so I can't just tell their story. I have to make sure we represent their identities and, you know, maybe hook [phonetic] them.

>> Maybe focus on a specific population and when you hear you're through proven.

>> Well, so what we focus on a specific population, I've thought about that initially, but I think what we want to do, I think the number one goal is because I thought about what would be really fascinating is to look at women of color in STEM [phonetic]. That's something I'm very interested in looking at to see how they've moved through that because we know that there are challenges with respect to women of color in STEM. And so, I'm very interested in doing that. I think that could be the study after the first one, assuming we persist with this research. But I think initially what I want to do is just get stories of -- it's probably going to be based on availability samples, and we want to look at undergrads, graduate students, and female faculty. And so, I think initially we will just take a convenience sample, and we'll look at those three different groups just to begin hearing the narratives, right, just to get into those experiences and so that we understand what it is like to experience that, experience that idea of imposterism. And once we have a picture of what that looks like, then we can make a decision about how we're going to target the research. But I'm very interested in looking at women of color and first generation students and faculty to see what their experience is because my, you know, I have a, not a hypothesis but a hunch that first generation folks are going to have a greater challenge with imposter syndrome than others, but I don't know for sure. And I think it probably depends, and if so, what does it depend on?

And so, I'm very interested in looking at these groups, these different groups, but for now, I think for this coming semester, we will just talk to the people who we can find who are indicating they have an experience of imposter syndrome, if that makes sense. And yes, I think that's a very worthwhile area of study. I'm very interested in that for sure. And so, that brings me to the study and, actually, before I get to that, I just want to make an observation that another thing that I kind of associated imposter syndrome with is our research approaches. And so, when we think about, with my experience coming through and learning about methods, methodology, I remember feeling like what we had to do was stay at a distance from what we were looking at. And so, in order to remain subjective and to not change our outcomes, and I do wonder if this is associated at all with this idea of imposter syndrome, particularly for women who are expected to move into, you know, particular kinds of relationships to demonstrate care for people, right. And so, when we think about how women are supposed to show up, and then when we think about our methodologies as keeping us separate from that which we are supposed to engage with, I think there's a little bit of a contradiction there; and I don't know that that's necessarily, you know, gender based. I think it's kind of person-based because some people want to ask the questions that connect us, right, and this probably transcends gender.

So, I think though that this objective, this [phonetic] notions of research can also separate us from what is that we're doing and may feel like something we're not going to have access to. Does that make sense? Okay. So, that's something that I'm curious about. I'm curious about whether the, you know, kind of our methodologies separate us and therefore keep us from asking the kinds of questions that we really want to ask. I do think that over time, over the last two decades, we've seen a greater acceptance of certain kinds of qualitative methodologies, and I think that that has allowed more connection to what it is we're studying, and I see that as positive, and I would think that we would, that these, the sense of being an imposter would decrease with these methodologies. I don't know for sure, but that's just something that occurs to me in the thinking around this. So, in terms of the study design, I have access to an undergraduate [phonetic] student and an undergraduate student who are onboard, and we have already started doing the review of literature. We have lots of literature that we have pored through. We want to interview women faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students, and we want to, as I said, explore the experience of imposterism, kind of tell us about a time when you experienced feeling like an imposter and explain what was the situation, how did you feel in the situation, what did you actually do in response to how you felt in that situation, and let them take us into those moments.

And so, the plan is to interview them and get, and seek these stories out and then to kind of create them as narratives. So, it wouldn't just be straight transcription, but we would interview them, record it, audio record, transcribe. We would look for the themes both, so if we have the capacity to take on undergraduate women, graduate women, and faculty, women faculty to look at kind of the themes that occur within those categories and then across those categories. And so, that's the idea for that; and then to recreate your own writing, you know, making these narratives revocative [phonetic] so that readers will be taken into those moments and so we can actually experience what it is like to have it. And I think that will be very powerful in helping people who experience it see that they're not alone, but also the people who don't experience it, they can see and experience and feel almost really what it is like to have that experience. So, maybe they can have greater empathy for that and awareness and then identify with, you know, implementing strategies for disrupting what that is. So, that's kind of the goal, and that's kind of the study design.

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>> Did you say there would be [inaudible] or could be in any part of [inaudible]?

>> I think we're going to just go with convenience sample, and so there will be across majors, across disciplines.

>> Yeah. I think, have you thought about maybe like the intensity of some of these discussions [inaudible]. This will probably be, you know, can we talk about this [inaudible] issues? You know, I think some individuals you interview might have some, you know, painful memories to talk about, but how do you feel about, you know, kind of having that other session or something?

>> Yeah. So, the question is could we, would we expect that some of the conversations we have in these interviews have a negative impact on the participants? And yes, I think that it's very likely. I think we're likely to be taken into some painful experiences. How do I feel about having those conversations? I've done research like this before, and so I have had those difficult conversations, you know, that are, that rely on a great deal of trust, protectionist, anonymity, and maintaining confidentiality, and so deeply committed to making that happen and deeply committed to making sure that my grad student and my undergrad student understand that this is privileged information and that we will treat it with great care. And I love that you asked that question because I think, I don't know what, so I don't ever like to do anything just normal if that's a problem. This is a problem I have because I want to, and this is not anything new, but what I would like to do is once we write up the stories to, just in light of what you're saying and how we care for our participants, what I want to do is I'd share the stories back with them and let them check them to make sure that we're good, right, that we're not saying anything that they don't want shared or that we're not taking it, you know, out of the context.

And also, what I want to do, and I would love feedback on this part because I can't just see, you know, conducting these narratives and getting these stories, which I feel are sacred stories, and then walking away. And even if we give them back to them, and then just we put it in and we publish it, or we present it, and then we take it as our work, right. What I feel that I have a responsibility to do is to help these students and faculty overcome it. And so, I shared some strategies early on in this session, and I envision maybe it's a packet or some kind of, you know, template or something, or maybe it's electronics that we forward to them, but we have strategies for overcoming that we share, and so that I would feel ethically sound in the research if I were to offer some solutions. Does that make sense?

>> Okay, yes.

>> So like, so it's an intervention to support and help the forward movement and development of each of these, you know, the people. So, I don't know, like I would love feedback on whether something like that has been done before. I'm sure I'm not the first person to think of this. So, it's not just like here's some information, and see you, but to actually serve as a resource maybe; I don't know. I don't know how far we can take that, and I don't know if IRB will allow it or to what extent we're responsible by it because then we become responsible for helping and, I don't know. So, I don't know if IRB will have issue with that approach, but that's something that we'll have to --

>> Or even if it's referral to others who have that information. So, for students, you know, counseling and psychological services, for example. We're talking, if anything, what would you recommend and if there's some kind of here's five things to consider, and then you really feel, I think you'd go beyond that, you do referrals to an office where they can support you. You know, maybe something along those lines, and it might be good to talk to some of the staff over there and see because I'm sure that they've seen this, right, in their work.

>> Yes. So, it's a great idea to make referrals to folks who can help; so, thank you for that. And we have been in touch with Capsule [phonetic]. I reached out to them to say have you done, anybody do research on imposter syndrome, and they said they have a presentation on it that they used to do. They don't, but they want to know what we find. So, once we put together our research, and we'd rather, but we were going to send it over to them. And so, if we have a problem with us sharing information, and we could, they're going to have our information, and so, and I see us, and I see a really wonderful opportunity for our grad students to lead the conversations themselves inside of our orientation programs. I mean, and to hear from faculty or other staff who experienced it as well, so they know they're not alone. There's not this expectation that you're going to show up, and you have to have this certain identity as an expert when you walk in the door.

>> Here I think is, you know, with the idea of that, you know, what are you saying about kind of not just taking but giving back. I think that's always a challenge in doing research, you know, you think you might just kind of using my sample just, you know, get my data and kind of move on. So, I like that you are thinking about that, and you know, I appreciate going for this topic. You know, maybe you could also like you could offer to do like a teaching and learning presentation, or maybe you could consult with academic partners on campus; I mean, especially for staff who's going to be here [inaudible] and the way to kind of show, you know, your impact in the community in which you sample from. So, maybe you may not touch them directly that you sample, but I think you'll get even maybe sharing some things perhaps that you [inaudible] offering a study. One time I did a thing where I had a booklet and I asked them; some reclined as they think they kind of presented some overall findings for the study and the resources that came from that and ideas on resources, you know, send this out to everyone who did the study; something like that. But you know, just really kind of you might be able to go through person at STSU on this issue because I don't think that a lot of people really have any, you know, I think they've got [inaudible] especially talking about, but I don't think they really know who to talk to about this or who really, you know, is kind of the go to person; maybe that could be your role in a sense, but after you do the study.

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>> Now, so could I be the go to person? I would love to be that, okay.

>> It could be, yeah, who's looking for that.

>> Yeah. Yeah. They are. Yes, so CAP [phonetic] looking for it. I think, you know, I think there's something that resonates for people when they hear about it. So, it's hearing that there is a name for it. I did a little, I did a simple game [phonetic] for one of our academic departments here in communication, and I raised the issue of imposter syndrome. And I was raising it in light of students, but I had some junior faculty in the room, and then later on they saw me, and they said, "I can't believe I just learned about what I've been experiencing."

>> Wow!

>> And so then I look at them, and I think, of course, they don't have it. So, I'm talking about it theoretically because none of you in the room have it. That's kind of how I think. I know it. You could kind of see it on their faces when I mentioned it because a lot of folks don't hear about it. They don't know that it exists, but then people, we need, so when we can name something that we experience, we have a sense of relief, you know. So, I do have, as I said earlier, I have concerns about the explanatory power of this variable or this concept or construct. I feel like there's a lot that goes into it, and I think that, I think that it may be possible through this research that we do this semester to get a better handle on what our participants help us clarify what that means. Does that make sense?

>> Yes.

>> So, we see into it because we can speak to our own experiences, but I can't speak to other people's experiences of it, or maybe there's times when, what are the times when you feel this the most. And so I think we will, hopefully, clarify what that looks like, and I think that will help us to be able to ask better questions and maybe look at what our next steps may be, you know, just by doing this exploratory study because to my knowledge, and I could be wrong, because I don't feel we have overturned every stone, I haven't seen a narrative representation of composter syndrome yet, so I don't know; it may have been done, and if anybody out there knows that it has been, please let me know. I still will do the study because I think there probably haven't been that many, and you know I don't know if we're the first people to come up with this idea; I doubt that. So, probably it's out there, and we just have not found it yet. But I'm looking forward to being able to share the stories about it so that people can really understand how it works and then maybe the disruption that it has caused. So, we'll have to figure out what those specific questions are, and I think maybe doing some. We thought about just starting with ourselves and just seeing like what are the critical questions that we have. What do we really want to know, and then interviewing each other and just seeing where that takes us in terms of the specific questions that we ask in interviews. And then, you know, we'll put it out there to our colleagues who can take a look at those questions too and reflect on those and see like what do we think we're going to find as a result of asking the questions this way.

>> [Inaudible] methodology talks about giving interviews. Have you thought about doing focus groups, and what do you think that'd look like if you did a focus group versus interviews?

>> I've thought about -- what would be, what would it look like if we did focus groups versus interviews? You know, I think one could be therapeutic, actually, if we get enough people in the room to share their, those experiences in a group setting and to, but I guess, you know, I guess one of the things I have is because, as you suggested in your question, this could be sensitive for people to share. I wonder if people would be more reluctant in a focus group setting to be as vulnerable and open. I wonder about that, so I don't know for sure, and what we really want is to actually get those experiences. So, if I can reduce, you know, people's concern, like well, if people are coming, and they do identify somebody who has imposter syndrome, I wonder in a focus group setting, would that imposterism be present in the representation.

>> They'd probably have more if they're like, you know, maybe it's all assistant professors and they're worried about how they're perceived. I don't know. It would take a lot of trust, for sure, I mean, especially if it's all coming from the same institution and the same program.

>> Yeah. Yeah.

>> I know a few years ago, one of the students from the Student Affairs program had been developing some groups, and they were doing it within the dorms and around wellness, and they were really trying to help normalize that conversation and begin to kind of be proactive about the kind of thing, anxiety and depression that will often happen to students as they come to college. And they were working in it, you know, from the graduates assisted [inaudible] perspective, and they did develop a lot of groups around topics. And I was in shock, as this didn't, hadn't come up, whether it was named or not. But you know, the idea of being able to have those conversations, and I know they'd been working on that the last few years, you know, room, you know, residence life, [inaudible] from the work that they're doing with students here. It's only, it seems like that's probably been part of the conversation.

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>> I would think so.

>> Yeah.

>> I would think so. That's something I can reach out to talk to Kaira.

>> You only have [inaudible] help to develop a curriculum and then move to another university incident [phonetic] there and the implementing it.

>> Excellent.

>> Yeah.

>> Excellent. Yeah, we can see how this could be in residential education.

>> Yes. They would have to approve, but if you're talking about it, it's kind of interesting, you know, when you talked about focus groups, etcetera, reminded me about that.

>> Yeah. That's, so I wonder, you know, maybe a combination of focus groups and interviews because with focus groups, you have the ability to get more participants in your study, like more voices heard. And then, those voices could be, so, one of the things that is done in narrative work is the construction of like a collective narrative, if you will. So, it wouldn't just be one person's narrative, but it would be a combination of a, I mean, and who knows, we could end up if we do this with individual interviews, or if we do it with focus groups, or both, we could write a kind of like a narrative that integrates the experience of all those participants at the end of graduate level. What is the maximum area when we consider all the narratives, right? So, we'd create master narratives for undergrad, master narratives for graduate students, and master narratives for faculty. I don't know if that's possible, but because we wouldn't get the subtle nuances that are, you know, that help us understand.

>> That's right. I mean, you know, it doesn't, I don't think you have to do one or the other. I mean, those are easily, you know, you'd get good information out of both of those.

>> Yeah.

>> You know, and then certainly this idea of protecting identity is a lot easier if you're talking about both groups, and it kind of makes [inaudible]

>> Yeah.

>> No, I'd like that.

>> Yeah,

>> I was really eager for you to do this and see what you find.

>> Yes, me too, me too.

>> So, you want maybe five minutes or so to kind of summarize, like maybe carve out your next steps or how do you want to focus us?

>> Yeah. So, I think what I need to do is get myself to method to the IRB process and start figuring out what is it that I need to do to make and get approval from that and hopefully have that happen soon. I don't know how long that'll take, but we'll have to, you know, we're going to have to get after that. And then, in the meantime, we are continuing to turn over all the stones that comprise the literature, and I have amazing students onboard doing that very thing and getting really excited about what they're finding. So, it's super exciting. And then, identifying who our participants are, and I've already had people say, "Oh, you have to interview me." So, I do have offers on the table, and we'll have to, you know, of course, wait to do that. But the other thing is to identify what are the burning questions that we want to ask, and what is it that we want to know? What do we need to know to be able to represent the stories of these people?

>> Right.

>> So, aside from asking them to tell us about a time that situates that inside a moment where they experienced it to see what else do we want to know; identify what is the demographic information we need to know, what are the details that we need to know about their experiences that may help us better understand it because I mean, the other factors, well, there's always other factors. So, what, but what are those that they will identify? So, we'll have to see what is it that we want to ask to get at that specifically. So, I think that's it, and I think the other thing that we need to get to work on is to, and we can actually begin working on this now because we need to share what we've learned with CAPS. And so I think the way that we can do that is to create some kind of brochure, electronic brochure that looks at suggestions for how we can address it; I think at the individual level and at the institutional level. So, I think that's where, those are kind of where we need to, those are the directions we need to move in and start answering those questions. And then, making sure that I've set aside the time to make this happen on a weekly basis because I can see how this would get away from me.

>> Yeah.

>> So, that's where we're going, and hopefully we'll have some answers at the end of this semester.

>> Very exciting!

>> Yes, it's great, and I'm really excited to see what you're going to come up with. Maybe you'll do a follow up presentation, you know, in six months or a year, and tell us where --

>> Yeah, I'd love to come back and do that. Thank you. Thanks so much for listening. I appreciate it.

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