An Antidote to Imposter Syndrome

The avenues into web development are continuously expanding, from learning alone with online resources to completing a computer science or software engineering degree and everything in between. Last week I got to speak on a panel to a group of 116 women about what it’s like working in tech, led by Generation UK.

The Event

The panel was a mix of different disciplines, backgrounds, experiences and career stages. For roughly an hour we spoke about practical tips for learning on the job (write things down! ask questions!), starting out in tech and navigating your way through. The questions for the facilitator (Grace) and audience were good, and the audience seemed to enjoy it overall.

Something I noticed though, was how jaded I am. Being around women who have spent less time in the industry, and who are predominately White, I noticed that while I wasn’t the only one with negative experiences, I was the one who had the most to say when it came time to talk about “surviving” tech.

Then came the question:

have any of you experienced imposter syndrome and how do you navigate it?

Imposter Syndrome

Many technologists have dealt with imposter syndrome, some probably believe it comes with the territory. Building web apps can be easy but it can also be really difficult, takes a lot of mental energy and can be exhausting. It’s easy to understand why folk would be overwhelmed, feel like they’re a fraud and not supposed to be here, from the work alone.

However, sometimes the cause of imposter syndrome isn’t the work but the work environment & I only really thought about it when Grace asked the question. I have had imposter syndrome, struggled with it for years, but there have also been chunks of my career where, despite how difficult the work is, I don’t feel like an imposter.

When work environments are healthy, offer appropriate support (that doesn’t have negative consequences), and values the work that’s being contributed, it’s easier to combat the negative self-talk. When we have people to constantly challenge the wrong things we believe about ourselves and our work, imposter syndrome has less room to grow.

Conclusion

I’m glad that we had space at this event to talk about the harms of the industry and how newbies, particularly ppl who don’t identify as men, can navigate the industry. I’m sure the diverse perspectives offered was beneficial to the audience, but it was also good for me. Thanks Grace & Hannah from Generation UK for having me!

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lola odelola

lola odelola

@blackgirltech’s mum, published poet, coder, wanderer, wonderer & anti-cheesecake activist.