Impostor’s syndrome and “You only got admitted because you are a woman”

At the Grace Hopper women in computing conference, I heard a lot of women with impostor’s syndrome say that they feared – or had been told straight out by classmates – that they only got admitted to university or won a scholarship because they were a woman (and not because they were qualified).

The only problem with this idea is that it’s simply not true in modern higher education in the U.S. and Canada (and probably elsewhere) – in fact, the exact opposite is true.  As women’s academic performance and qualifications have surpassed men’s, many schools are now admitting less qualified men and turning down women with better grades and test scores.

I know this is story has been around for a few years, but I just wanted to make that connection explicit:

“You only got in because you are a woman” is very unlikely to be true since men are the ones getting preferential treatment in college admissions.

That sneering frat boy who just dissed you is probably the one who got in with iffy grades and mediocre test scores.  In fact, he’s probably bugging you because he’s insecure about his own academic performance and looking for a reason he’s still superior to you.  So put your head up high and say, “Oh really?  Do you even read the news?  Everyone knows that men are the ones getting special treatment now.”

2 thoughts on “Impostor’s syndrome and “You only got admitted because you are a woman”

  1. “A study by the Institute of Education concluded that the rise in exam performance over the previous decade was entirely down to the improved performance by girls; their pass rate rose at a higher rate than the national rate overall, while boys’ performance remained static.” [independent newspaper, uk]

    I stumbled here on a Google search about linux and open source. We have the same issues in the UK minus the ‘affirmative action’ thing.

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