Commercial Integrator + Security Sales Jan/Feb 2024 - 10

Imposter Syndrome or Systemic Barriers?
MAKING WAVES
The self-doubt that many women experience has long been chalked up to emotional factors.
In truth, the actual reasons are concrete and systemic. By Caroline Dunn
" IMPOSTER SYNDROME " is often
characterized as a self-inflicted state
of doubt, affecting both men and women
in various industries and sectors.
However, in male-dominated fields like
AV/IT, women disproportionately grapple
with this condition. Although it's easy to
dismiss this as a psychological hangup, a
deeper analysis suggests that systemic
barriers may be playing a far more
significant role.
The Phenomenon of
Perceived Inadequacy
Imagine encountering a job opportunity
that perfectly matches your skill set. But,
instead of feeling joy, you're plagued by
hesitance, wondering if you're genuinely
competent for the role. You're not alone if
you experience this predicament. People,
especially women, frequently experience
these doubts. Recent findings illustrate
this issue's gendered dimensions. A study
of 4,000 adults revealed that 53% of women
have felt underqualified or skeptical of
their competencies at some point. Conversely,
54% of men said they have never
experienced this feeling.
The term is most commonly seen as an
individualized emotional state - as something
to confront and overcome on a personal
level. However, these feelings might
not solely be of our own making. Could it
be that systemic barriers in industry and
academia create fertile ground for what
we understand as Imposter Syndrome?
Challenging Norms
Having earned both a bachelor's degree
and a master's degree in electrical
engineering from Georgia Tech - an
institution where men significantly
outnumber women - I encountered the
psychological barriers that many face.
I've met countless women who were
discouraged from pursuing engineering,
math and computer science degrees. And
there are numerous other challenges,
which we'll now explore.
The Promotion Paradox: Promotional
opportunities, or the lack thereof, introduce
a complex layer. The " like promotes
like " phenomenon is an unwritten rule in
many corporate settings. This makes it difficult
for women to break the glass ceiling
when leaders are predominantly men.
Workplace Culture - The Subtle
Reinforcers: The environment of a
male-centric workplace extends far beyond
hiring and promotions. Microaggressions,
lack of mentors and exclusion from
" boys club " activities can add to the stress
and enhance feelings of imposterism.
Objective Hiring Practices: It's imperative
for companies to instruct hiring
managers to look beyond mirror images
of themselves, a practice that perpetuates
a homogenous work environment and
encourages unconscious bias. Mandatory
training sessions on uncovering and mitigating
unconscious bias in recruitment
should be required for every manager.
According to Forbes, teams that are
more diverse not only are financially
more successful but also tend to be stronger
in innovation. AI and data-analytics
tools can offer an initial screening process
that ensures a more balanced and diverse
selection of candidates. By combining
mandatory anti-bias training for hiring
managers with cutting- edge technology,
organizations can take robust steps
toward creating a more equitable work
environment.
Transparent Compensation and
Benefits: To genuinely level the playing
field, companies should adopt transparent
compensation and equitable parentalleave
options. The concept of parental
leave extends beyond just maternity and
paternity leave. It should also encompass
flexible schedules that allow employees to
tend to family needs. Far too frequently,
women find themselves shouldering
10 Commercial Integrator+Security Sales & Integration | Jan/Feb 2024
Part of creating a more inclusive
environment for all is overhauling the
narrative around Imposter Syndrome.
these responsibilities - often at the
expense of professional commitments.
Whereas their male colleagues might
have the luxury of attending after-hours
networking events for career advancement,
women are likelier to be tied down
by family obligations.
This imbalance perpetuates systemic
gender disparities in the workplace, hampering
women's professional growth and
feeding into feelings of imposterism.
Women-Led Initiatives
Leading organizations, including WAVIT,
offer more than just a supportive community;
they also emphasize the importance of
education, representation and inclusion for
women in the AV and tech sectors.
We need to overhaul the narrative
around Imposter Syndrome. Instead of
viewing it as an isolated emotional state,
we need to examine the systemic elements
that lead to these feelings.
In doing so, we not only validate the experiences
of thousands of women but also
take a major step toward creating a more
inclusive environment for all. CI
CAROLINE DUNN is vice president of
marketing at Wahsega.
ALEXANDER/STOCK.ADOBE.COM

Commercial Integrator + Security Sales Jan/Feb 2024

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Commercial Integrator + Security Sales Jan/Feb 2024 - Bellyband1
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Commercial Integrator + Security Sales Jan/Feb 2024 - Cover1
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