“Does the myth of the solo genius scientist contribute to imposter syndrome?”

“This is why I think the answer to my question is “yes”. I think it’s no accident that I don’t feel especially impostery when I collaborate with someone on genetic analyses, but I do when I collaborate on theoretical work. Women are stereotyped as not being good at math (as far as I know, there is no such stereotype related to molecular work), and so I think that triggers more of the feelings of fraud…In particular, the ability to recognize when you need assistance from others to tackle interesting questions and the ability to establish and maintain successful collaborations are important scientific skills, too, even if they might not be viewed as being as important as sheer brilliance.”

Interesting. I am really, really bad and defensive about asking for help, especially in certain topics where all the stereotype threat lives, because I feel like if I am really a smart science person shouldn’t I be able to do all this on my own? Or perhaps, more accurately, if I am getting help with something then I fear that someone else can come up and point to that as the reason for my success.

I think this imposter syndrome is something that can make it hard to work with men and especially white men in some environments, because they behave in a way that they definitely wouldn’t if they had more personal experience with the fears they were exacerbating.

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