Posted by: bethanygeiger | March 17, 2016


“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.'” -Maya Angelou

After we talked about fraudulence and the imposter syndrome I began recognizing it in myself and those around me more and more. I’ve been wondering why so many people feel this way about themselves? Is this self-doubt a learned behavior or have we been taught this by the media? Can one overcome this phenomenon or are we doomed to live with feelings of fraudulence?

Maryam talks about the idea of being “enough” and how women never feel that they’re “smart enough”, good enough”, etc. Even Maya Angelou, a leader to many women admits to feeling like a fraud. How do we overcome the imposter syndrome if leading women feel that their success is luck? We need more women in power to unapologetically take credit for their accomplishments. Maryam gives a reminder that fraudulence is feeling, not fact.


  1. Fraudulence is something that I didn’t realize was written about and after we read and discussed it for class I began to think of each situation that I thought to myself..”I’m actually not good at this at all” knowing full well that I was competent and well experienced in the area. I am writing about this in my paper also. It’s shocking to me that women, and even men, have these thoughts about how they might not be good enough in their field or that they suddenly believe they are incompetent knowing that they have been doing their job for years. I too wonder how this began in our society and why people (both genders) can’t just expect people for their strengths and help encourage/support them in their weaknesses. The woman I am interviewed also said a similar comment to Maryam, “fraudulence is a feeling, not a fact.” This is a pretty powerful feeling and if we learn to grow our minds away from that, just as we somehow learned to only think that way, I think both genders and leaders can learn to think of themselves more highly and have much more respect for leaders and themselves.

  2. It is interesting to me that most talks that I’ve seen and articles that I have read about fraudulence have been done by women. Maryam alludes to the idea that men also feel like frauds sometimes, but where are they?
    I often wonder if this difference, and lack of male involvement has to do with societal expectations or simply the tendency for women to be more open with their emotions.
    It takes a lot of courage, as a professional, to go in front of a crowd and say, “sometimes i feel like a fraud”, but it is also an extremely vulnerable position.
    I think that there is a tendency for men to have these feelings and try to ignore them, and not admit to feeling them because there is the societal “be a man” expectation.
    However, men also tend to compartmentalize. If they are feeling unsure or uneasy men, more than women, have an easier time pushing these emotions to the back of their minds.
    I think that the psychology of fraudulence in leadership would be REALLY interesting to study, I wish I knew more.

  3. I love this video! During my interview with my 2nd interview subject, I got another interesting perspective on fraudulence. My aunt, who I interviewed, said that she’s never had any experiences where she’s felt like a fraud in the workforce. She acknowledged that feeling fraudulent is definitely gendered, and said, “It’s because women have a tendency to need everything to be 110% before they feel comfortable moving on, whereas men can be at 70% and feel OK.” She went on to say that while women wait to reach that 110%, opportunities pass us by that no one knows we were waiting for, because we don’t speak up and say that we want something until we’re completely sure we are capable of doing it.

  4. When we first read and spoke about what fraudulence meant in the workforce I didn’t feel that I necessarily was a fraud. However, once we spoke about it in terms of us being “adults” it completely clicked for me! Society tells us that once we are 18, we are adults (and legally we are) but we still rely heavily on our parents and others to show us the ways of the world and put us on the right path. Our brains are not fully developed until about 24-25 years old (if I remember correctly from anatomy in high school) so the fact that before we even get to be 24 we are told to have our lives together and know how to do things like buy a car or do our own taxes.

    Bringing it back into focus about our class and this post I think it’ll be a long, difficult road before women in leadership “unapologetically” feel like they belong in their positions and don’t say it is because of luck. Our society tells us that women are the lesser sex and that they are simply not built to run large companies or be in charge of any masculine position. I know that we hope our generation will be the change but we will most likely face the same hardships women we are watching are facing, but the generations after us will (hopefully) not have an issue with this.

  5. Like Morgan, I brought up the idea of being a fraud in my interview #2. My neighbor, a doctor within the department of pathology, said that she has never thought the idea of being a fraud before. Within our interview, she told me that she naturally leads in a democratic way, but that is not due to her gender, that it is due to her department and what leadership is received best by other pathologists. But she then mentioned that when she transitions to leading other committees outside of the pathology department, she has to act “pseudo-authoritative.” I asked her if she felt like she felt like a fraud in that she was putting fourth a different form of leadership (which was not natural for her) depending on the situation. She told me that her transition did not make her feel as though she was a fraud, but she felt that she was just being adaptable. She said that you can put fourth a different form of leadership if that is what is needed in the situation, but that does not mean that you are a phony, it just means you are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. I loved her perspective because it was one that made me feel more at peace with changing my leadership style depending on the situation, and not feeling as guilty about being adaptable. Sorry for the rant, but thank you for sharing this video!

  6. I am glad that Maryam talked about fraudulence and that is only a feeling. Everyone goes through this and some people purposely shy away from it. I think that people would be more outgoing if they realized that they are not alone in the feeling. I think it would be a huge confidence boost, even for those who are already outgoing, to know they are not alone in this feeling. I know I have felt like then at job interviews. I feel like I do not know as much as my resume says I do and I am worried I will not get a job because of this. I do not want to ovoid this feeling however because I want to reach my goal of finding a full time job. I hope I will overcome these feeling to be able to be feel more confident in myself.

  7. Fraudulence is something I think every experiences to a degree. I feel like we are almost conditioned to question ourselves and if we belong in the positions we hold. I wonder how much of fraudulence is actually learned. Is there any part of us as human beings that creates this sense of self-doubt? Or is it completely learned through our experiences and lives. To me, it seems a large part accompanying fraudulence is ego. You don’t want to seem like self-absorbed, arrogant, or pompous. So what is there to do other than downplay achievements? How do we find a balance between being arrogant and downplaying accomplishments? While it is easy to say “Just stand behind the hard work you put it and acknowledge your well-deserved efforts,” how can we practically put that into action? I think it takes leaders stepping up and unapologetically noticing their own hard work and deserved achievements. There is a lot of inner work that has to be done to combat those “Gremlins” telling each of us that we aren’t really good enough, we don’t deserve that promotion, etc. We have to practice positive self-talk and know in our hearts that we do deserve the positions we are in and the actions we are taking. This is something my soon-to-be mother in law calls humble confidence.

  8. So I am a little disturbed no one has brought up those scary gremlins yet, those things were creepy, but so accurate to the voices in our head. Is this a gendered issue though? I still think we might be forcing this issue into a box, because while women might suffer from it more than men, this is an issue that anyone can have. I think the idea of positive self-talk is a great one; it is so easy to pick on yourself and drag yourself down, but we can accomplish so much by pushing ourselves to be positive. Instead of listening to the voices that question if you are going to do well in the interview, whether you should accept the job, or how you are going to do on a speech, WE (both men and women) need to tell ourselves we are going to nail that interview, we are going to take that job and excel, and we are going to blow the audience away with our speech. Simply by saying this right before you do it, you are guaranteed to be successful. Just try it sometime, it works (for both men and women)!

  9. It’s a shame how much society has changed are perception of knowledge over the years. I think that we can contribute this explosion of fraudulence to the times we live in today. Back when this country was first founded people were driven to excellence, to successfully advancing each and everyone around us. That is why we were able to accomplish so much in such a short period of time. However, now people are too afraid to strive for these feelings of accomplishment because they are scared of what will happen when they fail. I say when they fail because no one gets it right the first time, and I think people used to realize this and would work together with one another, accepting failures until the desired outcome was achieved. Except now this world is driven by such competitive lust that whenever someone fails they are attacked on all fronts until they simply give up. This is where feeling like a fraud comes in. I think it isn’t so much the feeling of being a fraud, but the feeling of uncertainty. People are so scared of being ridiculed for mistakes that we as a society have become timid and shy when it comes to success. When people think of the repercussions that come along with trying to accomplish something, they become uncertain about themselves and feel like a fraud for even trying. We need to get back to the time where everyone recognized that people aren’t perfect, and that mistakes are normal. And that only through these mistakes and learning from the past can success be achieved. Then people won’t feel like frauds because they will realize everyone is going through the same thing.

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