Survey results ring the alarm

‘Impostor syndrome’ affects almost 58% of tech professionals

Eirini-Eleni Papadopoulou
© Shutterstock / Anamwong  

A small survey conducted by Blind earlier this month shows alarmingly high percentages of tech professionals experiencing impostor syndrome. Do you feel like you don’t deserve your position despite all the effort and accomplishments you’ve achieved in the workplace? Then maybe you should take a look at this article.

Some months ago, after the suggestion of one of our readers, I wrote an article on mental health among developers. The article was based on the results of the Stack Overflow 2018 survey and personal research.

According to the Stack Overflow survey,  mental health issues like depression and anxiety are particularly common among the respondents. In the US, particularly, almost 20% of respondents said they deal with either or both. The largest percentage reported a mood or emotional disorder.

Now, this has been linked to a couple of mental conditions related to the workplace. The most prominent condition known to mentally affect developers is the ‘impostor syndrome’. In short, those who suffer from the syndrome are convinced that whatever they do, there will always be someone else in the work environment that is far better, far smarter and far more talented.

Reportedly, female developers seem to suffer from the impostor syndrome. However, a lot of male developers have admitted to being under the effect of this syndrome.

SEE ALSO: Mental health among developers and ethical implications

The ultimate result of this condition is the need of the developer to work as hard as possible, push themselves beyond the limits in order to achieve a goal that, in their mind, is unachievable since there will always be someone better than them.

That, in consequence, can result in the so-called ‘real programmer’ syndrome. It should be noted that, although it is called a syndrome, it has not been medically recognized as such. A Reddit user wrote:

You know a programmer isn’t a Real Programmer when they don’t volunteer to work 60 to 80-hour weeks (for no extra monetary compensation, remember) because it’s “fun”. All they really need in thanks is a company t-shirt and the occasional slice of pizza on those late nights.

Earlier this month, a small survey conducted by Blind painfully reinforced the feeling we got from the StackOverflow results.

The team of Blind’s Work Talk blog asked their users to answer one simple question: Do you suffer from impostor syndrome? The results are worrying, to say the least, and with a total of 10,402 users on Blind responding, we can say that the percentage is representative.

Over 57% percent of the respondents reported suffering from the impostor syndrome. It’s worrying and saddening to see that one of the most important professions nowadays has that alarming percentage of individuals depreciating their skills.

SEE ALSO: Ethics education among developers: Is it adequate?

Developers run the world. They are among the most accomplished and hard-working professionals in modern history and yet, way over half of them feel undeserving of their positions and achievements.

Thankfully, there are a couple of initiatives, like Prompt, an initiative of the Travis Foundation that tries to raise awareness on mental issues among people in tech and help guide individuals towards professional help, if needed. I strongly advise anyone of you who experiences these kinds of feelings to reach out. Developers are no impostors. If anything, they are real-life heroes because, without them, no aspect of modern life could run!

Eirini-Eleni Papadopoulou
Eirini-Eleni Papadopoulou was the editor for Coming from an academic background in East Asian Studies, she decided that it was time to go back to her high-school hobby that was computer science and she dived into the development world. Other hobbies include esports and League of Legends, although she never managed to escape elo hell (yet), and she is a guest writer/analyst for competitive LoL at TGH.

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3 years ago

I thought this was about a different kind of impostor syndrome.

The kind where you have high ranking Senior, Chief, roles with suffixes like TO, Architect, and Engineer. Yet they don’t know basics like the difference between MySQL and PostGRES, how networking works, especially UDP side, they don’t know how Redis is different from MongoDB and other things. Yet they make ALL the decisions.