Women Imposter Syndrome

BBEA takes a look at women with C-Suite positions suffering from imposter syndrome…

More than half of women in corporate roles find the idea of climbing the corporate ladder daunting, with 4 in 5 suffering with imposter syndrome

The team of business experts at have conducted research to find out how many women are working in C-Suite positions across the UK and if there are any hurdles stopping those from more junior positions from achieving C-Suite roles.

Recent research published by the BBC found that nearly 40% of board positions at the UK’s biggest companies are now held by women, with there being an increase from 374 women in C-Suite roles in 2020, to there being 414 women in C-Suite roles in 2021*. However, the research also found that, although 4 in 10 UK FTSE 100 board positions were held by women, 45.6% of these were non-executive roles*.

Research has made it clear that there are not enough women in the UK in C-Suite executive positions. However, that doesn’t mean that women aren’t trying to place themselves in these positions. In May 2021, searches for ‘Female CEO’ in the UK peaked to their highest point in the last three years and, over the last 12 months, online searches for ‘Become a CEO’ peaked in January 2022, according to Google Trends.

Following on from this, the business experts at the British Business Excellence Awards conducted a survey, speaking to 2,150 women from the UK who are in full-time employment and below C-Suite level, to find out what hurdles they feel they’re facing when it comes to climbing the corporate ladder. The most common hurdles women in full-time employment feel they’re faced with, preventing them from desired or future promotions, were revealed to be:

1. I don’t feel I have the required skills – 62%

2. I need flexible working – 48%

3. The industry is too heavily dominated by men – 42%

4. I’ve never seen a woman in that particular role – 21%

5. I don’t feel confident enough – 18%

Also, of those who said that they’re hoping to advance into executive and C-Suite positions during their career, over half said that they found the thought quite daunting (55%), with 81% admitting they suffer with Imposter Syndrome.

Sarah Austin, Director of The British Business Excellence Awards, comments:

“It’s positive to see that more and more women are being promoted into C-Suite positions; this is certainly the highest level we’ve seen. Imposter Syndrome is, for sure, a tricky feeling to have – and it’s definitely something I hear men and women suffering with across the board. Having these feelings isn’t always a bad thing and can often push you want to do better and be better, in your role, for your company and for those that you work with and represent.

“While it’s clear that some women do worry that their home lives will impact their work, it is possible to maintain a healthy work-life balance and continue to rise through the ranks.”