Impostor Syndrome: Why Even High Achieving Black Women Feel Inadequate

Worried black businesswoman at desk

By: Krystle Crossman

Women have it rough when it comes to being a part of the working class. They are paid less than men for doing the same job, face a lack of respect, and are often patronized by colleagues. Many feel that they don’t belong in the job they are in or think that they don’t really know what they are doing, even when they do. This is called imposter syndrome. Women are constantly putting themselves down and lacking confidence in the workplace and often feel like they are someone else while they are at work. Imposter syndrome hits black women the hardest. Did you know that only 5% of managerial positions are held by black women in the workforce? This can make them feel like they are an outsider.

Black women are often disregarded in the workplace just because of their race and the stereotypes that come with it. They are seen as “aggressive”. They are viewed as someone who will not listen and conform to other people’s ideas and processes. This leaves them feeling ignored and disrespected. This is where imposter syndrome kicks in because they have to do work that they feel that they shouldn’t be doing because they want to be seen and respected. This is very detrimental to their career path as they doubt themselves every day. Black women do not speak up if they feel that they are not ready to take on the position that they are in even if they are extremely qualified for it. This can lead to them losing their jobs for not performing as they should or can cost them a promotion because they don’t stand out amongst the other workers.

How do women know whether they are experiencing imposter syndrome or whether they are just having a bad day at work? Imposter syndrome will last for as many days as you let it. It isn’t just something that happens for one day and then you are better the next. People suffering from imposter syndrome will have thoughts of being ignored and disrespected. They will feel like no one would even notice or care if they just didn’t show up for work. They may hide in the background on purpose because they feel like no one will take them seriously even if they do step up and take initiative. All of these things continue from day to day until the person dealing with them takes action to get into a different mindset.

In order to get into a different headspace you need to take a clear look at what you are doing and how you are doing it. Think about all of the reasons that you took the job and see all of the positive things that you know how to do. Challenge yourself. Speak up when you see an issue or when you have an idea. Take pride in your work. Make sure that you do not think that you are not worth anything in your current position. Tell yourself every day that you make a difference and that you are great at what you do. Once you recognize that you have these fears you can take the steps to overcome them!


One Response to “Impostor Syndrome: Why Even High Achieving Black Women Feel Inadequate”

  1. KC says:

    I can relate to this point. I remember about 8 years ago I was promoted to a supervisory position for the bank I was working for. And then to top it off, the bank was going through a merger with another bank so I was going into one of the branches that was being bought out so to speak. The ladies I was going to supervise made my life a living hell from day one. There were days I just wanted to quit, days I would go home and just break down and cry. I wanted out so bad. They would talk about me behind my back, wouldn’t listen to anything I had to say. It was just a bad situation. I don’t think it was all due to race, I think a lot of it was resentment from one girl in particular who felt like she should have been promoted. Fast forward 8 years later, I now own my own business and I am my own boss. That experience taught me a lot though. I learned patience and overall it made me a much stronger person. I know that the world overall is very unfair and sometimes you will have to put up with certain things but in the end it will make each one of us better and stronger people.

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