Rates of Imposter Syndrome Among Female-Identifying Individuals in Undergraduate STEM Programs at McMaster University
Imposter syndrome is characterized by an individual lacking an internal sense of success, regardless of achievements, resulting in feelings of ‘intellectual phoniness’ (Clance & Imes, 1978). Regardless of their achievements, many academic professionals experience this phenomenon. Previous research shows that female-identifying individuals in STEM programs experience gendered expectations, biases, and stereotypes within male-dominated fields, creating barriers as a result of gender discrimination (O’Connell & McKinnon, 2021; Crawford, 2021). This research was conducted as part of a group-based thesis for SOCPSY 4ZZ6 and had received MREB ethics approval. This research aimed to determine if rates of imposter syndrome are higher for female-identifying individuals in male-dominated fields. Additionally, we aimed to observe the factors contributing to the persistence of imposter syndrome. We recruited 44 undergraduate McMaster students and collected data using an online, anonymous application, Lime Survey, to collect both qualitative and quantitative results to evaluate the levels of imposter syndrome among undergraduate students at McMaster. Our results showed that there was no correlation between higher rates of imposter syndrome and female-identifying individuals as well as those in STEM programs. Rather, we found that imposter syndrome is prevalent at equally high rates across faculty and gender. More research needs to be conducted on this topic to confirm our results.