Posted by: chaselaing14cnuedu | November 3, 2016


As we discussed this topic during class I have had a hard time understanding it. As many noticed via the dog comparison. But while I conducting my interview for the paper I discovered something. The person I was interviewing did not feel like a fraud either. I started to dig into this topic more. As a bio major I find my world to be pretty black and white, you are either right or wrong. This is because of the evidence and observations I make. (DISCLOSURE I am not saying we live in a black and white world, the world in fact is very very grey).

I have been taught for the past 2 and a half years to look at the evidence and then make a decision. So when it comes to my work and qualification I do the same. I might not have experience to do a job, but if I got hired clearly I have potential. I would not consider myself a fraud for doing something I have no experience in but yet someone hired me. This is not what McIntosh pointed at in the studies. Typically if someone had no experience in a field they would question constantly why were they hired? I don’t belong here; I don’t have the qualifications. I am just fooling everyone and myself. Even if they had some experience they would still question it.

Then why would I not feel like a fraud and why did my interviewee not feel like a fraud? Someone who had a high up position like my interviewee, who has never been in a non-research manger position, did not feel like a fraud. McIntosh’s article does not apply to us. I was interested in why this was and started looking up frauds in science. This is when it became apparent to me why we did not feel this way. If you are a fraud in science you cannot get away with it. Someone will point it out immediately. Facts are facts and if you mess with them someone will point it out. This is the nature of science, questioning one another. There is huge processes of peer reviewing and defending your research in front of others. If you try to pull the wool over their eyes you are discredited and will not have a career in the field at all. But if you present the right information, that can be defended you are given those credentials.

What I am saying is that due to the nature of the science field it is hard to ever feel like a fraud, because if you were it would be pointed out. This nature has not only shaped my opinion but also someone else’s who has been in the field for over 25 years.


  1. I really enjoyed reading your post. I am not a science major, so it was nice to gain a new perspective. I definitely agree with your point that in science you have to know what you are doing or else someone else will call you out.The entire scientific research process is very long and detailed. You must have the facts exactly correct because it is very easy to find flaws and make mistakes. I also agree that since science is surrounded by this stark atmosphere it can prevent individuals from feeling like frauds; however, I do not know if this is always true. I think that feeling like a fraud is largely based off the person and the situation. I believe that even women in science have felt like frauds before. So yes in science, you may quickly be called out for making a mistake or lacking the potential, but no I do not believe this negates all feelings of fraudulence. Again, it it largely based off the individual and the situation. I also think that men are also plagued by feelings of fraudulence in science and other fields.

    For example, my interviewee was the Chief Operating Manager for a biopharmaceutical company. She was also working in a highly masculine and scientific field. However, she mentioned feeling like a fraud often.She did not let these feelings ever be known to her followers, and consciously worked to always better herself. I do not think being in a science field automatically eliminates the possibility of fraudulence, but I do believe it can quickly help limit it given the nature of scientific research.


  2. I agree with a lot of what you have said and its interesting to get your perspective. My interviewee also did not feel like a fraud, and didn’t understand why someone would. She too felt fully capable at her position. I think, it seems to me, that this concept of a fraud isn’t as universal as this article made it feel. I think reading this reading it made me think that women feel like frauds all the time, when in reality I bet it’s more diverse. I think that women in leadership positions are required to be highly skilled and competent and I get the feeling that they do not have room to feel like a fraud. They are proving themselves consistently, not only to others, but to themselves as well. I think a lot of the time women leaders are required to be so much that it narrows what type of woman is a leader. Meaning that women who are at the top don’t doubt themselves as much. I don’t have anything more than anecdotal evidence to support this idea, but it’d be interesting to research more.

  3. I think you are right, and your interviewee are right, to not feel like frauds in your field of study. I think that, like you said, the STEM fields like biology are very black and white, but there are some grey areas or else there would not be research. But the STEM fields are very hard for women to get into and when they do, it’s because they worked really hard to get there and they know they belong there because either you know your stuff, or you don’t. Because there are so few role models for women in terms of leadership, I think that while women do not feel frauds in their fields, they just don’t feel like they are leaders, because no one like them has ever been one in the past. I think that when a women becomes a leader in the STEM fields, they don’t realize they are leading because they may be the lead reseracher on a project, and its because they want to do the project, not to lead people. They are not the text book versions of leaders and I think that is what is so hard for women in the fields such as science feel like, because no one like them in the past has really been labled as a leader for them to compare themselves too.

  4. I definitely see the perspective that you are taking in this post. I am a psychology major, so a social science, but for me and my classes, there is definitely no black and white answer. My question to you is, when doing research, don’t you run into situations where you are uncertain if your research will show statistically significant results? I know you mentioned that the lady you interviewed does not do research, but I have to assume that as an undergrad you have or will do research before you graduate so that was just something that came to my mind. Ultimately, it is a different and unique perspective, but my situation is just very different. For example, I am going to school to be a special education teacher and in a situation like that, no two people are the same and therefore in school I will not learn that there is one correct, most effective way of working with an individual and the sense of fraud will always be in the back of my mind.

  5. I am caught in the middle of your post. I have some understanding of the concept of feeling like a fraud, but at the same time I don’t. I am also a biology major, so I totally understand where you are coming from with that! Nothing gets done in science if you question and second guess yourself. Like you said, it is very black and white.

    My interviewee said that she did feel like a fraud. This is when I started to get a better understanding on the topic. As soon as I asked her if she ever felt like a fraud in her line of leadership, she immediately said that she did. No prompting, no further explanation. Right away she was able to answer the question and went into great detail about it. She said she knows that she is qualified for the job that she is in, but sometimes she thinks that someone else could do better or she just asks herself, “why me?”. Because of this she pushes herself to be better at what she does and become the best in her field so she can show herself and others that she is the best and that she is meant to be there.

  6. I also have a really difficult time understanding this idea of feeling like a fraud. I understand that sometimes, when in a really great position one might find themselves feeling rather surreal or lucky to be in that position. Kind of a “how did I get here?” moment. I do not however understand the purpose of feeding into the feeling of being a fraud. It is unhealthy to constantly be questioning your legitimacy in a role (it gives you an warped self-image) and it is not going to help you be a more effective leader. Humility does not equal feeling like a fraud. Humility is not harmful to a person’s view of themselves, while feeling like you’ve tricked/snuck your way into a good position is harmful.

  7. When I conducted my interview, I asked her the same thing and she had to keep from laughing. She was like do you mean having that I have no idea what I am doing. After I explained the concept to her she thinks that the idea is a little outdated. That it might actually stem from the older generation. It was interesting to hear her say that, but I started to think about it and I think she has a point. Today, we are often encouraged by our family, friends, professors to pursue our dreams and never regret what you are doing. Maybe this is true, maybe this idea of feeling like a fraud is something that is in the past

  8. I can certainly see how a field that is so based in quantitative analysis would have less “grey space” that would foster fraudulent feelings. I think this may be due to the emphasis on “hard skills” (i.e. measurable qualifications, quantitative knowledge) in STEM fields. If you want to climb the ranks in the science field you have to know science. You’re skills are highly measurable and therefore can be “proven.” I can see how this would lead to more feelings of validation. In contrast, fields that emphasize “soft skills” are much more nuanced. It is hard to measure a person’s people skills or communication ability; therefore it opens up more room for self-doubt or feelings of fraudulence. This certainly adds a level of nuance to the idea of fraudulence!

  9. The previous comments make a good point about how the science perspective may be more black and white. But in class I think we are more focused on the interpersonal skills that have no concrete measure to them. And how well we think we did or what we think we deserve also factors in. So if I think I did a bad job but get complemented then I’ll feel like a fraud. Or if you get put in charge of a project and do not think that your as qualified then those feelings come in. Feeling like a fraud has a lot more to do with confidence rather than skill.

  10. My interviewee also did not feel like a fraud. But I think there are really different perceptions of fraudulence… For example my interviewee felt that frauds are those who pretend to know something or have knowledge that they don’t actually have. So in this way fraudulence is more about handling information than it is about feeling inadequate. So I would not say fraudulence is dependent upon certain fields per say, but it is dependent upon the person. People can feel fraudulent for different reasons. They may not always have to do with facts and figures.

  11. Depending on the context of one’s work field the term fraud may be seen in different ways. In the context of science being seen as a fraud would deem research and theories as unreliable. Therefore the status of the person would be diminished. But this could also differ from person to person. This could also be attributed towards personality differences. Some people maybe more naturally inclined towards confidence in one’s work due to all of the hard work they have done in order to get to where they are at within their careers. The idea of fraudulence is a representation of false humility that should not be an attributed to any leader. A leader must own his or her own role and therefore incorporate true humility in order to be respected and lead successfully in whatever context they are placed in.

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