What you need to know:
- The Joseph Epsteins of this world not only work to bring down women but they also subconsciously, plant seeds of doubt in most women’s minds, manifesting as the imposter syndrome- a psychological phenomenon where one doubts their accomplishments and talents; in the fear that they will be exposed as a fraud whilst thinking that they do not deserve all they have achieved.
- Imposer syndrome victims believe in the notion that their success is a matter of luck and not necessarily their hard work, indeed a lie, because women put their blood, sweat, and tears to accomplish these academic milestones.
Are you a real doctor? Is your medical degree real? These are questions I often find myself encountering both in the online and physical spaces despite the fact that I am a qualified medical doctor and a holder of two master’s degrees- an MBA, and an MSc. Global Health Policy, from well-recognized institutions globally, while currently pursuing a law degree as I lay my foundation for a PhD- see what I did there? Yes, I just stated facts, facts about my academic qualifications, yet, many times, I am made to justify these credentials, of course, mostly to misogynistic proponents that hold and propel the ideology for hatred or contempt against women, often than not, those who identify women as being inferior to men.
A very familiar reaction
So in the wake of global uproar criticising the degrading, and I use the word degrading intentionally, of Dr Jill Biden, who is set to become the First Lady of the United States of America by author Joseph Epstein on the Wall Street Journal calling her a fraud and discrediting her academic qualifications, I among other women in academia and STEM, science, technology, engineering, and math identify so well. It was audacious and insulting for the WSJ opinion editor to allow the article to see the light of day, but he has since defended the article.
But these gendered patterns of disenfranchising women are not just for misogynists like Joseph Epstein and the editorial counterparts at WSJ, this is a pattern that is also exhibited in the labour market; where many female employees tend to be rated as less competent as compared to men. See, women will often than not be juggling multiple responsibilities at the same time, from family obligations, childcare, to housework among other non-paid duties. Oh, women can’t have it all, I mean, with all these responsibilities and how then can they ever qualify to be the ideal worker? Paradoxically, the few women who find favour in the labour market and are high achieving are often disadvantaged by the perception that they lack warmth hence assumed to be less communal. Ultimately, this flawed perception of women’s’ abilities and competencies excludes them from advancing in their careers, ending up with lower starting salaries and fewer promotions to managerial positions.
Seeds of doubt
The Joseph Epsteins of this world not only work to bring down women but they also subconsciously, plant seeds of doubt in most women’s minds, manifesting as the imposter syndrome- a psychological phenomenon where one doubts their accomplishments and talents; in the fear that they will be exposed as a fraud whilst thinking that they do not deserve all they have achieved. Imposer syndrome victims believe in the notion that their success is a matter of luck and not necessarily their hard work, indeed a lie, because women put their blood, sweat, and tears to accomplish these academic milestones.
I do not believe that we want to miss out on the brilliant women who would be shakers and movers in the business world, healthcare, technology, engineering, and social sciences; because the loss will be ours, collectively. We need to pinpoint, correct, and mitigate the obstacles that erase and deter women’s achievements- misogyny, and patriarchy- whilst creating environments that celebrate and amplify women’s successes.
I will conclude by reflecting on Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s quote to women. In her wisdom, Kamala Harris reminded us "There will be people who say to you, 'You are out of your lane, these people they are burdened by only having the capacity to see what has always been instead of what can be. But don't you let that burden you”. So, yes, I’m a doctor, and a brilliant one who has earned her place on the table and in the profession; and who shall not need to justify her accomplishments, and neither will she allow her light to be dimmed.
Dr Stellah Wairimu Bosire is a Human rights Medical Doctor, a Student of the law and an activist.