‘Whenever a woman in my lab would tell me, ‘I just don’t know if I can make it,’ I would pull out my CV and show them where I was at their stage, and highlight how much more impressive they are’. Dr Zoghbi, a scientist with multiple awards, said this in an interview.

‘If I can do it, you can do it… ‘.

In the world of STEM, women have been making remarkable strides, breaking barriers, and shattering stereotypes. However, even with their exceptional achievements, women in STEM often find themselves grappling with two powerful adversaries: lack of confidence and Imposter Syndrome. In this article, we will delve into how lack of confidence, and imposter syndrome affect women in STEM. Moreover, we will explore ways to overcome these challenges.

The Power of Confidence

Confidence is an indispensable trait that propels individuals toward success. For women in STEM, cultivating and nurturing self-confidence can be a catalyst for personal and professional growth. Confidence empowers women to embrace challenges, showcase their skills, and take on leadership roles in their fields. A strong belief in one’s abilities helps overcome the gender biases that still persist in STEM industries and fosters an environment where women can thrive.

It is a fundamental aspect of both personal well-being and career advancement. When individuals possess confidence in their abilities, they are more inclined to embrace challenges, take risks, and persevere through obstacles. This courageous attitude often translates into significant career growth and the accomplishment of ambitious goals.

Imposter Syndrome: A Hidden Struggle 

Imposter Syndrome is an internal battle that affects many women, irrespective of their achievements. This phenomenon manifests as a persistent feeling of inadequacy, despite external evidence of competence and accomplishments. Women experiencing imposter syndrome tend to believe they are undeserving of their successes, attributing their achievements to luck or external factors rather than their capabilities. As a result, they may fear exposure as “frauds” and constantly doubt their abilities, hindering their pursuit of greater achievements.

This causes many to downplay their achievements, doubt their skills, and feel less confident in their capabilities. This self-perception can also influence their willingness to take on challenging tasks or pursue leadership roles that can advance their careers in STEM fields.

Addressing Imposter Syndrome and Fostering Confidence:

There are numerous practical ways we can collectively elevate the confidence of girls and women in STEM. Some of these impactful strategies include:

Building self-confidence is an ongoing journey that touches various aspects of life, particularly when it comes to women in STEM. This critical issue requires support from both individuals and institutions alike. While the steps listed above serve as valuable guidelines, it’s important to recognize that they are not exhaustive. They merely highlight a few key strategies to begin with. 

By actively implementing these empowering measures and extending support to women in STEM, institutions and organizations can play a vital role in fostering a more inclusive and diverse workforce. In doing so, they contribute to the cultivation of innovation and address societal challenges through a broader range of perspectives and expertise.

Remember, empowering women in STEM is not a one-time effort but an ongoing commitment that requires continuous encouragement, mentorship, and advocacy. At WAAW Foundation, we are creating an enabling environment for women in STEM to be empowered and encouraged to succeed in their career, we aim to achieve this through our programs which you can read more about here. If you believe in our mission, kindly support us; Donate Today

The extract at the beginning of this article came from Dr. Zoghbi; she was a practical role model to the women who had been in contact with her, and she demonstrated that countering self-doubt does not always require sweeping institutional changes. While such changes are undoubtedly necessary for creating a more inclusive scientific environment, individual efforts can make a significant impact in the interim. 

Okoye U. C., (June 4, 2020). “Women in Science: Overcoming Imposter Syndrome”.