Imposter Syndrome: Women More Likely to Experience it than Men, with Onset at Around 23

A comprehensive study involving 4,000 adults has revealed that 53 percent of women have encountered imposter syndrome—a feeling of unwarranted self-doubt, incompetence, and being underqualified. In contrast, the majority of men admit to experiencing imposter syndrome solely in the workplace (63 percent), while over half (54 percent) claim they have never felt it at all.

For women, imposter syndrome is most commonly experienced in professional settings (72 percent), followed by educational environments (29 percent) and social situations with friends (29 percent). Among these women, 24 percent admit that imposter syndrome hampers their romantic relationships, and 18 percent feel its impact on their parenting responsibilities.

One of the key triggers for imposter syndrome is the pressure to “have it all,” as cited by 20 percent of women. Additionally, 22 percent believe it has prevented them from forming new friendships.

The study further reveals that imposter syndrome symptoms typically arise around the age of 23 for women. Moreover, 62 percent of women admit to rarely experiencing true confidence throughout their lives.

Thriving in Womanhood The research, conducted by Galaxy confectionery, coincides with the launch of their video series titled “How to Thrive” in collaboration with Young Women’s Trust, aiming to equip individuals with tools to overcome imposter syndrome.

To raise awareness about the issue, the chocolate brand has partnered with television presenter AJ Odudu, who expressed, “Imposter syndrome can be a debilitating phenomenon that affects various aspects of everyday life. It can consume you on social media, dominate your thoughts when away from home for the first time at university, and even impact the formation of friendships. As someone who has frequently faced it in the past, it has been a pleasure to work on this content series alongside incredible individuals and hopefully provide tangible advice for women across the UK.”

The study also reveals that while 63 percent of respondents believe a lack of confidence contributes to imposter syndrome, 44 percent consider constant self-comparison to be another significant factor. Furthermore, three in 10 individuals attribute imposter syndrome to perfectionist tendencies.

Alarmingly, only a quarter of women who experience imposter syndrome openly discuss it, compared to 37 percent of men. Moreover, only 30 percent of women with these feelings have actively attempted to reduce them.

Embracing Confidence Among those who have not taken steps to alleviate imposter syndrome, 45 percent admitted to being unsure of where to begin in overcoming it. Additionally, half of the respondents acknowledged that they have simply learned to live with it.

Overall, 65 percent of both men and women surveyed believe that imposter syndrome has become more prevalent among younger generations due to the pressures they face, such as constant connectivity and the influence of social media.

Victoria Gell, spokesperson for Galaxy, expressed their ambition to empower young women and create a ripple effect that enables the next generation to thrive. Gell stated, “Through our support for women in cocoa-growing regions, encompassing education, financial assistance, and entrepreneurship, as well as campaigns like this, we strive to make a difference.”

Claire Reindorp, CEO at Young Women’s Trust, commented, “Young women encounter numerous challenges in reaching their potential, progressing in life, and achieving fair wages. They are more likely to be employed in low-paid jobs and sectors and often find themselves trapped there. At a stage in life when women should be growing and learning, they are frequently burdened by the struggle just to get by. I am delighted that Galaxy is helping us confront this issue head-on by funding our coaching service, which assists young women in increasing their incomes and building their confidence.”

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