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Conversations on Equity and Inclusion: The Imposter Syndrome

Friday, October 2, 2015
4:00 AM
411 West Hall Light refreshments beginning at 2pm

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, a surprising number of bright, capable, and often highly successful people dismiss their achievements as due to luck, charm, or other external factors. Individuals suffering from the Impostor Syndrome tend to believe they have somehow managed to "fool" others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. As a result, people experiencing this syndrome live in fear of being “found out.”

From Wikipedia: "Impostor Syndrome has been commonly reported by graduate students and scientists beginning tenure track."

When Dr. Sarah Ballard was a graduate student at Harvard, she ran a workshop on the Impostor Syndrome to follow up on a seminar held by Dr. Valerie Young. Young has written books on the subject and has also authored a workbook in particular, to help folks identify their impostor thoughts and think critically about them. Ballard will give a brief (~20 minute) introduction to the issues, open to everyone starting at 2:10pm.

Then she will run a workshop designed primarily for graduate students, which  she will supplement with summaries of peer-reviewed methods designed to enable participants to grapple with impostor thoughts. Students interested in participating in this workshop are encouraged to email to receive instructions for completing a 5 minute “homework assignment” prior to the workshop. (While the workshop is designed for astronomers at the graduate level, "impostors" at all levels of seniority are welcome to join.)

Sarah Ballard (MIT) Kavli Institute