Successful Woman Computer Scientist Addresses Imposter Syndrome

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Impostor syndrome is the frequent feeling of not deserving one’s success, and of being of a failure despite a sustained record of achievements. Highly successful people often experience it throughout their careers, especially when they are members of a group that is underrepresented in their profession—such as female scientists or engineers. In every job I’ve had in the last 25 years, I’ve been the first woman to hold my position—head of computer science and dean of science at the University of British Columbia, dean of engineering at Princeton, and now president of Harvey Mudd College. As my career progressed, so did the intensity of my feelings of failure.