Recently I came to the end of a long journey as a student, and passed my PhD viva examination! So I am now officially Dr Kate Atkin.

It’s been rocky at times, fascinating and a lot of hard work, but the stories I heard from my participants deserved telling in the best way I could and although my thesis has been written in an unorthodox way, I think it tells those stories clearly.

For those of you who are interested, to save you wading through my 70,000 word thesis, here is a brief summary…

There were four themes, many additional findings and also areas for future research (don’t tell my husband!!). I will write more about the themes in future posts, but for those experiencing the imposter phenomenon in the workplace having External Support (theme one) is really important. This could be a listening ear from a supportive colleague, manager or friend/family member. Then there is a sense of Belonging or Otherness (theme two) which clearly indicated that some people need extra qualifications to believe they are good enough (where’s the mirror?!) and feeling other is more than the protected characteristics mentioned in EDI agendas. A lot of my participants used preparation as a way of fighting their imposter thoughts, sometimes over-preparing and over-working and discussed putting on armour, hence theme three is called Donning Armour. Finally my research took a unique approach to courage, in particular psychological courage and the potential for drawing on this inner courage to re-think the self view to one which is more positive and to take on board that postiive feedback which is so often dismissed when someone experiences imposter thoughts. So my fourth and final theme was Finding Courage.

So I’m drawing on my inner courage to be the bear in the postcard below and announce to the world that my student days have come to an end, but it is not the end of my learning. More to follow but for now many thanks to so many people who have supported me along the way, and especially my supervisors: Dr. Anna Paraskevopoulou, Terri Simpkin (associate Professor), and Dr Nic Gibson.

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