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I am glad that the Orange Flower Awards seek self-nomination. High achieving women often suffer from self-doubt, and this is a good way to remind us that we are good enough.
A few days ago, I saw an Instagram post announcing the Orange Flower Awards which recognise the power of women’s voices. I read about it with curiosity, but didn’t give it a second thought.
I received an e mail from Women’s Web seeking self-nominations for the Orange Flower Awards, and I ignored it. Yes, I write occasionally, but I didn’t think my work was good enough for me to nominate myself in any of the categories.
A past winner especially tagged me and asked me to look at nominating myself, and I told her that I was not ready yet. “That is up to you”, she said, “but I think you should nominate yourself.”
For the next few hours, I thought of nothing else. Why was I so reluctant to nominate myself for something I was clearly eligible for? We were just talking about nominations, not about whether or not I would win. In any case, wins and losses have never mattered to me as much as participation. When it comes to experiences, my philosophy is that doing something new, giving it my best shot and not succeeding is better than not trying at all. What then explains my extreme reluctance to self-nominate myself for the Orange Flower Awards?
The answer was not hard to fine. I was suffering from Imposter Syndrome. I was holding myself back because I had convinced myself that I was not qualified enough. I had struggled with Imposter syndrome all my life, and just when I thought I had conquered it, it popped up where I least expected it.
First described by Suzanne Imes, PhD, and Pauline Rose Clance, PhD, in the 1970s, Impostor Syndrome is a psychological occurrence in which an individual doubts their skills, talents or accomplishments, and has a persistent internalised fear of being exposed as a fraud. People who suffer from imposter syndrome are often high achievers who attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability, and live in constant fear of being “found out”.
Whether we notice it or not, Imposter Syndrome permeates the formal and informal workplace. In almost every office, there are people who never push themselves forward for a prime assignment, despite being eminently suitable for it. I was one of them in the early days of my professional life- even when I wanted a project very badly, I would never ask for it, always hoping that someone else would nominate my name instead. It was only when I found those assignments repeatedly going to people far less qualified than me that I lodged a feeble protest, only to be told that I had been passed up because they didn’t know I was interested. I was told that had I indicated my interest, it would certainly have been given the assignments because I was the most suited for them. Did I learn from any of these experiences? I don’t think so. Though I got a little better at asking for what I wanted, I still struggle to break free from doubting my own self-worth.
While Imposter Syndrome, unlike what was originally believed, is gender agnostic, more women suffer from it than men. In a much quoted study by KPMG where 750 high performing women executives were polled, it came out that as many as 75% of the women had personally experienced Imposter Syndrome at some point or the other in their career. Further, 85% of them believed that women commonly suffer from Imposter Syndrome, and 74% reported that their male counterparts experience self-doubt much less than they do.
An article in Forbes quoted from an internal study conducted by Hewlett-Packard which said, “Women working at HP applied for a promotion only when they believed they met 100 percent of the qualifications listed for the job. Men were happy to apply when they thought they could meet 60 percent of the job requirements.”
This is a phenomenon that anyone who has been involved in recruitment is familiar with. I had once placed an advertisement which specified that the candidate should have between 3 to 5 years relevant work experience. One female candidate (who I eventually hired) fell short by 3 months, but apologised for that in the cover letter and said she was applying only because she was extremely keen on the job. Almost all the men who applied had far less than 3 years experience (two were even fresh graduates), but didn’t feel the need to explain how other factors might mitigate the lack of experience. As someone who would never dream of applying for anything unless I qualified for it, I was quite surprised by the difference in behaviour between people of the two genders. It was only after understanding how Imposter Syndrome affects women more than men that I could put the experience in its proper context.
One possible reason why women, especially women in male dominated industries, suffer from Imposter Syndrome more than men could be that women are conditioned into believing that it is easier for them because of their gender. From a mythical ‘gender’ quota in management institutes and during placements, to faster promotions, women are told “It is easier for you because you are a girl”. Though none of it is true, it is repeated so often that many women start to believe that they owe more to “luck” than skill, and that they will soon be “found out”. This affects everything from applying for jobs, seeking challenging assignments and accepting a promotion in the existing job.
Imposter Syndrome particularly affects racial, caste, religious or gender minority groups, because there are fewer role models for them to emulate and therefore greater chances of feeling that they do not fit in.
The first step in overcoming Imposter Syndrome is accepting that you suffer from it. You need to then take stock of your strengths and weaknesses, and see how they match up to the requirements of the job. You then need to remind yourself that are you good enough for what you are doing, and seek help from others if needed. A good mentor can play a very useful role in helping you recognise your expertise and in identifying the areas where you need to build up your skills. Sometimes, taking on a mentoring role also helps- you end up increasing your own confidence, when you help someone less experienced than you are.
I am glad that the Orange Flower Awards seek self-nomination. High achieving women often suffer from self-doubt, and this is a good way to remind us that we are good enough. My Imposter Syndrome certainly raised its ugly head and tried to convince me that I was inadequate. By filling up the self-nomination form, I have already won the biggest award- the battle with my own self-doubt.
I hope this account gives more women the confidence to apply for the Orange Flower Awards. As the hockey legend Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Take the shot.
Natasha works in the development sector, where most of her experience has been in Education and Livelihoods. She is passionate about working towards gender equity, sustainability and positive climate action. And avid reader and occasional read more...
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What I loved was how there is so much in the movie of the SRK we have known, and also a totally new star. The gestures, the smile, the wit and the charisma are all too familiar, but you also witness a rawness, an edginess.
When a movie that got the entire nation in a twist – for the right and wrong reasons – hits the theatres, there is bound to be noise. From ‘I am going to watch it – first day first show’ to ‘Boycott the movie and make it a flop’, social media has been a furore of posts.
Let me get one thing straight here – I did not watch Pathaan to make a statement or to simply rebel as people would put it. I went to watch it for the sheer pleasure of witnessing my favourite superstar in all his glory being what he is best at being – his magnificent self. Because when it comes to screen presence, he burns it, melts it and then resurrects it as well like no other. Because when it comes to style and passion, he owns it like a boss. Because SRK is, in a way, my last connecting point to the girl that I once was. Though I have evolved into so many more things over the years, I don’t think I am ready to let go of that girl fully yet.
There is no elephant in the room really here because it’s a fact that Bollywood has a lot of cleaning up to do. Calling out on all the problematic aspects of the industry is important and in doing that, maintaining objectivity is also equally imperative. I went for Pathaan for entertainment and got more than I had hoped for. It is a clever, slick, witty, brilliantly packaged action movie that delivers what it promises to. Logic definitely goes flying out of the window at times and some scenes will make you go ‘kuch bhi’ , but the screenplay clearly reminds you that you knew all along what you were in for. The action sequences are lavish and someone like me who is not exactly a fan of this genre was also mind blown.
A new Gallup poll reveals that up to 40% of Indian women are angry compared to 27% of men. This is a change from 29% angry women and 28% angry men 10 years ago, in 2012.
Indian women are praised as ‘susheel’, virtuous and to be emulated when they are obedient, ready to serve others and when they put the wishes of others before their own. However, Indian women no longer seem content to be in the constrictive mould that the patriarchy has fashioned for them. A Gallup poll looked at the issue of women’s anger, their worry, stress, sadness and found that women consistently feel these emotions more than men, particularly in India.
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