Women Leaders Confront 'Imposter Syndrome,' Other Challenges at Jonesboro Summit

Women Leaders Confront 'Imposter Syndrome,' Other Challenges at Jonesboro Summit
Panelists taking part in the Arkansas Business Women’s Leadership Summit broadcast from the offices of Haag Brown Commercial Real Estate & Development in Jonesboro. (Becky Flynn)

Women must support other women in their professional march forward, four panelists agreed during the Oct. 8 Jonesboro Women’s Leadership Summit, an online event hosted by Arkansas Business.

The panelists were Paige Gilbert, CORE warehouse manager for Frito Lay North America; Kila Owens, president of the St. Bernards Foundation; Natalie Shew, manager of academic partnerships for Hytrol Conveyor Co. Inc.; and Lenore Trammell, chief administrative officer at Big River Steel. Mandy Richardson, publisher of Arkansas Business’ sister magazine, Little Rock Soirée, moderated the panel.

Topics ranged from “imposter syndrome” and work-life balance to pay equity, how to get ahead and diversity.

Imposter syndrome refers to feelings of inadequacy; both Gilbert and Ownes said they struggle with this. 

“I think that, as women, we constantly hold ourselves to a higher standard, right?” Gilbert said. “We may have 60% of the qualifications but not put in for the job because we’re not 100% there, right? We think that there’s always that gap, and I think, as we go and sit at the table and try to project confidence, it can be very challenging, right? People, it feels like a lot of times, are waiting for us to mess up, waiting for us to fail. So I think, as females, we’ve got to be able to encourage each other.”

Owens said she considered pulling herself out of the running for her current position because she didn’t feel qualified enough. Owens said she deals with these feelings by acknowledging the experience she brings to the table and that everyone struggles with feelings of inadequacy.

On pay equity for women, and especially women of color like herself, Trammell said it’s important that a person knows their worth. 

“This is easier said than done, but you do need to do some research ahead of time,” she said. “You need to be prepared to negotiate. And you need to think through how you’re going to respond if the answer is no.”

She suggested that women pretend they are negotiating for someone else rather than for themselves. Gilbert said women must talk about pay so that they can figure out if theirs is on par with that of their similarly qualified peers.

To get ahead professionally, Shew suggested women be open to mentorships inside and outside the office. 

All the panelists said their companies are conducting bias training, forming groups of people with similar backgrounds who support each other and recruiting differently to create a more diverse applicant pool.

Arkansas Business has another Women’s Leadership Summit scheduled for Dec. 3 in Fort Smith. Simmons Bank is the presenting sponsor of the summits.

More On This Story