Impostor Syndrome in academia and beyond

Kevin Matteson Tory Lowe Ana Barata

A discussion with Tory Lowe ( and Ana Baratta ( from the Rinella Learning Center at Miami University. Hosted by Kevin Matteson ( from Project Dragonfly. Contact any of us with additional comments or questions! This event is sponsored by the Graduate School at Miami University as a part of the Professionalism 101 Series.

“Impostor syndrome” is a feeling that you do not belong in a place, often related to new experiences in graduate school and academia, but also connecting to many other areas of life and work. We might feel like an “impostor” in these settings because we look different, talk different, or have different life experiences from the perceived “cultural norm.” This detrimental internal narrative can prevent us from being our most genuine and authentic selves. Reflecting on this and sharing our feelings with others are key steps in alleviating “impostor syndrome” and reaching our full potential.

Presentation Highlights

0:58 – Dr. Ana Barrata shares her understanding of impostor syndrome

11:30 – Impostor Syndrome bingo! You can download your own copy here. This is produced by Dr. Sarah Ballard and the University of Florida.

19:20 – Impostor Syndrome vs. Reality

25:00 – Coping with impostor syndrome. Realize you are not alone! and more.

28:00 – Academic culture and impostor syndrome. Coping mechanisms. There is no guidebook of “how” to be in graduate school. There are norms that are not explicitly stated.

32:20 – Jargon terms that “haunt” people new to academia such as “epistemological assumptions”, “multi-variate analysis” and “construct validity”. It’s ok if you do not understand all these (and other) jargony terms when you are starting out! Ask or look them up and don’t feel bad.

33:30 – Top five ways to thrive. Humor… and other ideas.

37:40 – Impostor syndrome and marginalized identities.

39:20 – the difference between shame and guilt.

47:58 – Alternative professional pathways. Find your own path!