“You are an engineer? Really?”
She’s nearly six feet tall with long blonde hair. When she tells someone what she does, their reaction is almost always the same. Disbelief.
She’s a senior software engineer. She’s my sister and she’s sometimes mistaken to be my twin. So when I got my first job as a developer, I knew to expect the same reaction when asked what I do.
A few years ago, an engineer appeared in a recruiting ad for her company and there was an outpour of responses doubting whether she was truly an engineer. How could an attractive woman be an engineer?! This sparked the hashtag #iLookLikeAnEngineer, with hundreds of female engineers posting pictures of themselves. As if to say, hey, we exist!
With so few women working in tech and with so many people being shocked when you do, it’s easy to feel imposter syndrome as a female engineer.
Yet there’s an upside of imposter syndrome. A way for it to push you forward.
When I started coding, I felt like a fraud. I’m not supposed to be here, I thought. Girls aren’t supposed to code. I expected that nothing about coding would come ‘naturally’ to me.
So, I decided to work my ass off.
I expected to have to work harder and for longer. I expected to fail a lot and to keep going. I expected that each new coding concept would be tough to learn, but that I could learn it if I just kept going. I anticipated that I would feel stupid, but I knew I could understand anything if I kept at it.
Because I felt like an imposter, I became determined to get better.
I developed a grit that I didn’t have before.
This is the upside of imposter syndrome. You can use it as fuel to push yourself.