Breaking the Imposter Syndrome Barrier for Women in BIM

by Tayler Hubber-Davis, Regional Lead for Sydney, Australia and Digital Delivery Consultant at IIMBE

Imposter syndrome is a psychological phenomenon that affects many individuals in the workplace, particularly those starting their careers. It is a feeling of inadequacy or being a fraud, despite evidence of one’s accomplishments and abilities. When starting out in a new role, it is not uncommon for one to experience imposter syndrome, even for those that may have excelled academically or passed a rigorous interview process.

This was certainly the case for me when I received a call with my first job offer out of university. It was a moment of both excitement and doubt. Although I had graduated with a master’s degree and landed a role in a graduate programme with a major engineering firm, I found it difficult to interpret my achievements and found myself questioning why I deserved to be hired in the role. The feeling of inadequacy was exacerbated by working in a relatively unknown area of BIM, where there is not always a clear career path, and where women are underrepresented.

It is important to note that imposter syndrome is not a personal flaw, but a product of systematic bias in industries like engineering and construction. Cultural expectations and societal pressures can add to the feeling of being an imposter, especially for women in the workplace. Women may feel the need to constantly prove themselves and their capabilities in a male-dominated industry like engineering or construction. This can lead to self-doubt and questioning their abilities, even in the face of their accomplishments. However, it is possible to overcome imposter syndrome with support from others.

To combat imposter syndrome and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, companies should prioritise creating a supportive environment that values and celebrates the contributions of all employees. This includes implementing or encouraging mentorship programs, providing opportunities for professional development and advancement, and actively working to promote diversity at all levels of an organisation.

Over the past five years, I’ve found that I’ve been able to grow in my technical capabilities and had the support from others that I’ve worked with to grow and advance my career in this area. When feeling self-doubt, a common phrase of encouragement that I have heard from colleagues across companies is “Remember, you are the expert in the room.” I’ve learned to understand the unique strengths and talents that I can bring to the table. It has also been comforting to connect with others in various levels of their BIM career and find that they may also be experiencing similar feelings of doubt.

The growth of Women in BIM over the last ten years shows the importance of having a support network. This community provides an open forum to discuss and learn about a growing area of the engineering and construction industry and celebrate successes together. By fostering a culture of inclusivity, support and collaboration, organisations can help individuals overcome imposter syndrome and unlock their full potential.