As we all know, that many high-powered CEO women suffer from the imposter syndrome. You know- the belief that she is a fraud and will be found out and fired. Globe & Mail author May Jeong wrote a great article on it on September 23, 2011 but kind of missed the mark. She blamed two causes: lack of courage or the skill to “go ahead and act as if you can” and the desire of women to please too much.
Note that both blame women.
Although these are both causes, the deeper reason got overlooked (again). We live in a society and culture that continually tells women that they should not be at the top. They do not have the right skills and abilities and do not rightfully belong there. For example: “How on earth did you get here?”; “There must be something wrong (e.g. weird) with you?”; “Wow, a woman at the top, how cool is that?”; “Are you REALLY a woman?” The truth is that most women who work in a male-powered world must become “something else” to be a success. Many (but not all) of us have to contort our minds and bodies to fit into this world that is not always accommodating. And given the statistics, to be a woman at the top is most definately a rarity. But rather that look at these powerful women as even weirder because they have an imposter syndrome, perhaps we should see this “disease” as a natural consequence or impact of our corporate culture that allows only a few amazing women to make it into positions of power, status and wealth.