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Deindividualising imposter syndrome: imposter work among marginalised STEMM undergraduates in the UK

Murray, Ó. M., Chiu, Y.-L. T., Wong, B. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7310-6418 and Horsburgh, J. (2022) Deindividualising imposter syndrome: imposter work among marginalised STEMM undergraduates in the UK. Sociology. ISSN 1469-8684

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1177/00380385221117380

Abstract/Summary

Imposter syndrome is the experience of persistently feeling like a fraud despite one’s achievements. This paper explores student experiences of imposter syndrome, based on 27 interviews with marginalised STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine) undergraduates at two pre-92 elite UK universities. We argue that imposter feelings are a form of unevenly distributed emotional work, which we call imposter work. Drawing on Sara Ahmed’s ‘diversity work’ concept we explore how marginalised students’ imposter feelings are often in response to, and reinforced by, the exclusionary atmosphere of university, resulting in more imposter work to survive and thrive at university. Three key themes are explored - the situated and relational nature of imposter feelings; the uneven distribution of imposter work; and the myth of individual overcoming – before concluding with suggestions for collective responses to addressing imposter feelings.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Improving Equity and Inclusion through Education
ID Code:106518
Publisher:Sage

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