Belinda White, Fierce Girl Finance
“A hype man, in hip hop music and rapping, is a backup rapper and/or singer who supports the primary rappers with exclamations and interjections”.
One thing I love in life is a ‘women in ___’ industry event. You get together with the awesome ladies from your area of expertise, eat an overpriced beef-or-chicken-alternating-choice meal (paid for by work), and bond over bread rolls and tiny butter pats.
At a recent one I attended, we were talking about the pitfalls some of us face when it comes to talking ourselves up.
If there’s one toxic trait that the patriarchy loves to foster, it’s convincing women that we should be modest and humble. The worst possible thing would be to boast, and have people think ‘she’s got tickets on herself’, ‘she’s so up herself’ or ‘she’s a stuck-up be-atch”.
The Imposter Plague
And we aren’t policing each other – we are policing ourselves. At a different event for smart, successful young women in finance, where the fabulous Trenna Probert was a panellist, they did an audience poll. The question was ‘How often do you experience impostor syndrome at work?’. The answers were … alarming.
- 33% said every day
- 46% said often
- 9% said rarely
So let’s take out the 1 in 10 women for whom imposter syndrome is not a problem, and think about the fact that the vast majority of us are sitting around thinking we aren’t that good.
That’s not because we aren’t. How could 90% of us be not very good at our jobs?
No, it’s the world we are raised in, that somehow convinces us that we aren’t very good. Which isn’t to say that men don’t get imposter syndrome. Would a roomful of male investment professional agree that 90% of them have it? I doubt it.
First of all, can we just take a moment to not blame you, as an individual for feeling this way. A fascinating Harvard Business Review article last year shook up the whole idea:
“Imposter syndrome puts the blame on individuals, without accounting for the historical and cultural contexts that are foundational to how it manifests in both women of colour and white women. Imposter syndrome directs our view toward fixing women at work instead of fixing the places where women work.” [italics mine]
Put simply, it’s them, not you.
And secondly, we can accept that we are likely to experience feelings of inadequacy from time to time and decide how to work around it.
The Hype Woman Exchange
So, at the lunch mentioned earlier, we got to talking about how to combat some of those feelings. One woman explained how she and her colleague recognise each other’s great performance, witness their wins and generally have a front row seat to the other one’s high performance.
And so, they made a deal to remind each other of those things – to be each other’s Hype Woman.
I love this idea so much. I named it the Hype Woman Exchange. Like, an agreement to remind each other how awesome we are, and give each other ammunition for our performance reviews.
I thought of it this week when I was having issues in my own workplace. I was being all apologetic for ‘causing trouble’ (aka asking for what I want), and my colleague pulled me up on it and told me to stop apologising. She was really puzzled to see me so un-fierce.
It’s because she has only ever seen me be a Hype Woman for her, and others. She hasn’t seen how I roll when it comes to my own behaviour, which can be summarised as ‘feeling bad about asking for anything’.
So, she is taking on her own Hype Woman role for me. We are living the Hype Girl Exchange.
How awesome is that, and how awesome are women?