5 takeaways about being a woman in eCommerce and dealing with imposter syndrome


Mona Teo-Rubinsztajn

September 20, 2022 | 3 min read

According to a report by the World Economic Forum, men hold 69% of roles in leadership globally. It is undeniably still a men’s world, despite an accelerating trend of women being hired into leadership roles.

This understandably gives rise to feelings of imposter syndrome, which is defined by Oxford Languages as “the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.” What does it mean to be a woman in modern-day business, and how should women in leadership deal with imposter syndrome?

Headshots of three speakers from CX Circle's who will speak about imposter syndrome
We sat down with Lucy Applegarth, eCommerce and Digital Marketing Manager at Boody, Brogan Ruytenberg, Head of Digital at Lee Matthews and Lyena Fi, Growth Product Manager at eucalyptus to learn more about their experiences and here are our five takeaways.

1. Imposter syndrome is usually a product of your workplace environment

“It becomes really easy to forget about all the great things that you’re doing”, says Lucy. Feeling like you’re not good enough, despite all your achievements or how many times someone tells you that you’re doing great is the most limiting aspect of imposter syndrome.

Often it is seen as a personal issue, but more often than not, these feelings are caused by your environment. Instead of telling women they have imposter syndrome, we should aim to create working environments that foster a variety of leadership styles, and place emphasis on female leadership roles. 

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2. Women are generally more susceptible to imposter syndrome 

With 69% of leadership roles held by men, it’s only natural that women are made to feel like they have to work harder to achieve the same successes as their male counterparts. Women in male-dominated industries are also less likely to make bold moves or take risks, which ends up being detrimental to their career or salary progressions

I think women are told from a very young age not to make any noise, don’t be dramatic, don’t be too much – just be quiet and sit, and be pretty and smile,” says Lyena. “So yes, I definitely believe that women are more susceptible to imposter syndrome than men”. 

3. Imposter syndrome feels less scary when you have a network

When my boss left the business, I was quickly put in a position where I was reporting directly to the leadership team, comprised of all males. During meetings, they would ask questions like ‘why is this number that’ or ‘why is the report this way’ and I used to take it really personally, thinking they just thought me stupid and not qualified for the position. I wanted to quit so many times! It was only after I sounded out friends in the industry that I realized the further you move up the ladder, the less hand-holding you get so you need to be more assertive, know when to push back and know that what you’re doing is right. You just need to believe in yourself” says Lucy. 

Brogan recalls a similar situation. “I was really young when I started managing staff, all of whom were older than me and I had this mentality ‘why would they listen to me or ‘why would they respect me’ because of my age. Like Lucy, I was very fortunate to have an amazing support network of other incredible women who constantly reassured me of my strengths and my abilities – and that it was not about my age but how effectively I can manage a team”. 

4. Imposter syndrome might never go away, but it can be managed 

Unfortunately, imposter syndrome isn’t like a headache that you can easily treat with medication, but there are ways to deal with it. Brogan champions finding a support network that you can lean on in times of self-doubt because something all you need is just small pieces of encouragement to get you right back on track. Dealing with imposter syndrome is a mental game, and the power of positivity is what Lucy relies on. “Take time to create space and time for positive reflection. Think back to all the amazing projects your spearheaded, or every month that you constantly delivered and smashed your KPIs,” she advises.

Along a similar vein, Lyena hypes herself up with a little pep talk every time she enters a room or has to speak at a conference or event. “There is a reason why you were invited to this meeting; there is a reason you were hired for this role. You’re in this room for a reason. Even if you are the token female, it doesn’t matter because what matters is that you are representing diversity. You’re representing women and it’s so important to just start making noise,” she says. 

5. Imposter syndrome reminds you that you are your biggest champion 

“You just trust your gut and know your worth”, advises Brogan. Imposter syndrome lives in your head and it’s hard to overcome, even with the right environment, but that doesn’t mean you should let it limit you. Don’t be afraid to take up the space, be loud, speak up your mind and call things out. 

Hear more from these amazing women at their panel session Women in eCommerce: How to channel your inner Elle Woods to beat imposter syndrome at CX circle: The DX Gala in Syndey, October 13. Register here

Hear from Women in eCommerce at CX circle on all things imposter syndrome