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What is Imposter Syndrome and Why It’s Worse for Women of Color

Written By
Nellie Tsai
Social Innovation Officer
Nellie Tsai
Posted On

The first time I heard the term imposter syndrome, I thought to myself – finally! It perfectly captured how I felt in so many instances of my life; that I didn’t deserve to be in whatever space I was in. Imposter syndrome- simply put- is feeling like a fraud, feeling like you don’t belong, despite whatever education, accomplishments, experiences you might have.  

Every time I enter a room, get invited to sit at a proverbial table, a small inner voice tells me “I don’t belong here, and they know it.” According to a report, nearly 70% of people experience this at some point in their lives, which means I’m in good company. I felt this the most acutely when I was in my MBA program, where I felt so unaccomplished with my nonprofit background in a cohort full of management consultants. I can see it showing up in my work, even now, where I find myself sometimes paralyzed by a need to make sure everything is perfect; that if I make a mistake or fail, there is no coming back from that.  

There’s plenty to unpack with imposter syndrome – this self-doubt is compounded by systemic oppression that adds to my inner dialogue. As an Asian woman, I know that part of this syndrome is the internalized narrative of the “perpetual foreigner,” that despite being born in the US, I will never not be asked “where are you really from.” Not only do I feel like I don’t belong, but I also look like I don’t belong. Whew. Like I said, there’s a lot to unpack here.  

So, I’m humbly inviting you to join me in a Community Conversation to explore this topic more. There will be a BIPOC only session to give space to those of us who want to have this discussion in a virtual room with others who have racialized identities that compounds how imposter syndrome shows up.   

Please join Nellie Tsai for a candid conversation about Imposter Syndrome, Friday, April 30, 10:00 AM-11:30 AM for a BIPOC only session or for a 12:30-2:00 PM session for everyone. 

Register here.


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