3 Ways Women Can Overcome Feeling Like a Fraud

3 Ways Women Can Overcome Feeling Like a Fraud

Sharing company with the likes of Sheryl Sandberg, Meryl Streep, Tina Fey, Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet seems great, until you discover the reason. Each of these women have admitted to feeling like a fraud at times during their careers and worrying they’d be found out, and this same fear stops many women from stepping up as leaders in business.

The Imposter Syndrome is something women, particularly those who are high achievers, suffer from more than men. It can affect their mindset, how they do business, and opportunities they choose to take (or not take).

A 1970s study by Georgia State University academics, Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, found women who considered themselves to be frauds were more likely to attribute their success to external factors, like luck, effort or human error in overestimating their intelligence, rather than their own abilities. Men however, simply own their achievements.

The researchers found, “Despite outstanding academic and professional accomplishments, women who experience the imposter phenomenon persist in believing that they are really not bright and have fooled anyone who thinks otherwise”.

You are not a fraud

Many Australian female entrepreneurs have shared the same negative thoughts about their abilities as the women above, and have struggled to overcome this.

Feeling like a fraud does not discriminate, as many well-accomplished entrepreneurs who have run multi-million dollar businesses still feel like they had no idea what they were doing.

Imposter Syndrome stops female entrepreneurs from really enjoying their successes. To stop considering yourself a fraud, consider these tips:

  1. Surround yourself with great people.
  2. Be prepared by gaining the skills and training you need to have confidence in your abilities.
  3. Take action.


No woman is an island

Successful businesswomen have built great teams around them because it is easier to achieve success with support. This team might be a combination of employees, colleagues, mentors, peers, advisors, friends or family, but they all contribute to building your confidence to reach your full potential.

You might think to yourself, ‘I do need a mentor to help me in business,’ only to find another part of you dreading bringing a mentor into your life in case they discovered you’ve been ‘bluffing’ all this time! You might dismiss your accomplishments as no big deal.

Back yourself

Many female entrepreneurs hold themselves back by citing a lack of skill or training in the area where they want to focus. Nothing is stopping you from gaining that knowledge – except yourself. Adore Beauty CEO Kate Morris believes the best way to overcome feeling like a fraud is to realise everyone is not better than you are.

“I’ve realised that what we see of others is just the good bits, while we’re all too aware of our own failures. I love this quote: ‘The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel,’ ” Ms Morris said.

Do it now

When your success in business depends on your willingness to make it happen, there is no time like the present. Adara Group CEO Audette Exel subscribes to the theory that those who say it can’t be done should get out of the way of those who are doing it.

“Inside of most women is this voice that tells us we are not good enough, we’re a fraud, we’re this and that. Ignore that voice, laugh when you hear it. When you recognise that voice, you become unbeatable. You have given yourself the permission to fail, the permission to try and that’s all that matters,” Ms Exel said.

Now is the time for female entrepreneurs to stop feeding that fear and acknowledge and celebrate their successes just like Sheryl, Meryl, Tina, Jodie and Kate have.


suzi-dafnis_5367_contributor350About Suzi Dafnis

Suzi Dafnis is the CEO of the Australian Businesswomen’s Network (ABN). She is passionate about helping women succeed in business. It is her aim to create opportunities for female business owners to learn and connect in ways that are easily accessible. www.abn.org.au

The ABN Hall of Fame honours and celebrates Australian female business owners who have been exemplary in their industries, are trailblazers and demonstrate inspiring and aspiring business journeys. http://bit.ly/abnhof15

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