Women and young academics are more likely to feel like “swindlers”


The more an academic discipline is viewed as raw talent or “brilliance” for success, the more both women and young academics feel professionally inadequate – like “cheaters” – finds a new study of US academics by a team of psychology researchers.

The resultsthat are in. to appear Journal of Educational Psychology, were particularly pronounced among women from races and races traditionally underrepresented in higher education and academia (i.e., Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Native American or Alaskan, Hawaiian or other Pacific islander).

“Based on previous research, women in these groups are likely to have greater feelings of cheating in brilliant areas because of negative gender, racial and ethnic stereotypes about their intellect,” says Melis Muradoglu, a New York University (NYU ) PhD student and first author of the paper.

“Many top performers feel inadequate despite having evidence of their competence and success,” added Andrei Cimpian, professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and lead author of the study. “Our study shows that these feelings are more likely to occur in certain contexts – those where brilliance is emphasized – so efforts should focus on how higher education can create environments in which all academics feel successful.”

Previous research by Cimpian and colleagues found that men were more likely than women to be perceived as “brilliant,” while another study he co-authored with Sarah-Jane Leslie of Princeton University found that women and African Americans in careers were in those who are perceived to be underrepresented in success are dependent on a high level of intellectual abilities.

in the Journal of Educational Psychology Muradoglu, Cimpian and Leslie, along with Zachary Horne from the University of Edinburgh and Matthew Hammond from the Victoria University of Wellington, tried to better understand how the “cheat phenomenon” or a sense of intellectual inadequacy manifests itself despite evidence of competence and success in the academic world, where intellectual skills are very important.

To do this, they analyzed survey responses from almost 5,000 scientists (Faculty [tenured, tenure-track, and non-tenure-track], Postdocs, medical students, and graduate students) from a total of nine public and private US universities and represent more than 80 subject areas. This included the natural and social sciences, the humanities and medicine.

In the survey, respondents were asked to share their experiences with impostor feelings (e.g. that’s a top scholar of [my discipline] requires a special talent that simply cannot be taught ”).

Overall, they found that women and young researchers (ie doctoral students and postdocs) felt that they were cheaters in relation to other groups.

In addition, in areas where brilliance was valued, scammers’ feelings were particularly pronounced among women from ethnic and ethnic groups that have traditionally been underrepresented in academia.

Regardless of gender, career stage, race, or ethnicity, academics who reported greater feelings of cheating also reported less affiliation with their area of ​​expertise (i.e., less attachment and acceptance by peers) and less confidence in their ability to succeed in the future, and indicates possible ways in which fraudulent experiences can limit the success of academics.

The researchers emphasize that while the deceiver phenomenon is often understood and portrayed as an individual suffering, the results show that the deceiver’s experiences are a function of the contexts in which scientists navigate.

– This press release was originally posted on the New York University website

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