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The Imposter Syndrome: Leadership Expert Guides Bay Path Students in Living and Leading WELL

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It’s no secret that while women make up more than 50% of college students, graduates, and workforce members, they are disproportionately represented in executive leadership positions, comprising a mere 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs, for example. Worse yet, there aren’t a lot of women in the pipelines for these coveted top positions. So, what is it that holds women back from taking a seat at the table? According to leadership expert Portia Mount, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing and Chief of Staff Americas for the Center for Creative Leadership, the Imposter Syndrome may be partially to blame.

“Most of us have limiting beliefs that hold us back. We need mentors who guide us behind-the-scenes, sponsors who clear the way for us, and most of all, we need to own and understand our own achievements,” Mount said. “Because of this, women’s colleges are more relevant and important than ever.”

Her presentation, offered as part of our Women Empowered as Learners and Leaders (WELL) curriculum, drew more than 125 Bay Path students ranging in age from 17-60 to the Blake Student Commons, including students enrolled in our One Day A Week College and American Women’s College Online. During her talk, she offered guidance and personal anecdotes on overcoming the Imposter Syndrome, a researched and documented epidemic of feelings of inadequacy in women that stem from their own limiting beliefs and can lead to derailment. Research shows that the individuals most affected by this are highly ambitious and achieving, but do not believe they’ve earned their success.

Mount related combating Imposture Syndrome back to the campus theme, “What does it mean to live well?” by sharing her own interpretation: “At the core of living well is understanding your value, and linking your value with your purpose,” she explained.

Laurie Cirillo, executive director of our Sullivan Career and Life Planning Center (SCLP), said Mount’s message aligns with the SCLP’s mission of empowering passion, purpose, and potential.

“Too often, we stop ourselves from pursuing opportunities because of our external beliefs. Portia’s message underscores the importance we place on empowering women at Bay Path, and the curriculum we have in place that encourages our students to lead from the inside out and have confidence in who they are,” Cirillo said.

Mount advised students who recognize in themselves a lacking belief in their abilities or a tendency to belittle their own accomplishments to take an inventory of their skills and document them, focusing on how those skills have contributed to successes.

“And don’t be afraid to ask for help,” she said. “It’s so important to build and maintain a network. Talk to other people who know you and your strengths. Their perspectives can help you realize if you need to shift your thinking.”