Dr. Knatokie Ford will give a talk to people with imposter syndromes at the Saxbe Auditorium of Drinko Hall on Nov. 28. Credit: Courtesy of The Office of Diversity and Inclusion

You earned the position you are in and Knatokie Ford knows it.

Ford, founder and CEO of Fly Sci Enterprise — an organization that uses storytelling to promote social changes — will give a presentation about imposter syndrome on Wednesday at Ohio State.

Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern where people perceive themselves as frauds who earn accomplishments due to luck rather than competence, despite evidence showing they are qualified.

Ford is a biomedical scientist and a former senior policy advisor at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, who shares her personal experience on combating imposter feelings.

“Dr. Ford is a speaker who is in high demand and demands the high speaker fee,” said Yolanda Zepeda, assistant vice provost at the Office of Diversity and Inclusion — one of the organizations that hosts this event. “I am really proud that there are 10 to 12 sponsors that are working together to bring this speaker [to Ohio State].”

Zepeda said this cooperation between departments signifies the prevalence of fraud feelings. One of these departments includes the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, which is a co-organizer of the event that aims to help underrepresented scientists gain progress in sciences.

“Anyone can struggle from the imposter phenomenon, both staff and students,” Miguel A. Lopez Jr., vice president of the SACNAS OSU Chapter, said. “I would speculate that it is our inherent tendency to question our own abilities.”

Imposter syndrome affects people in all walks of life and can present a significant barrier to success. In past presentations — such as the TED Talk she gave in 2017 — Ford has compared the feeling to a trigger for depression, with a long-term feeling of incompetence.

Zepeda said a lack of confidence could also negatively impact career paths.

“It is not healthy that we begin to doubt our ability and thus to make decisions about our future,” she said.

During the talk, Ford will tie in her upbringing with tips to help participants recognize and overcome their fraudulent misconceptions.

Zepeda said being aware of personal faults is the first step to overcoming the imposter feeling, and people with the syndrome should identify their strengths and career goals.
“You can recognize it and you improve it and get that to go away,” Lopez said. “What Dr. Ford details is a sign of when you feel in this imposter experience and how to redirect your brain so that you can recognize it and not let those feelings get overwhelmed.”

Ford will give the presentation at the Saxbe Auditorium in Drinko Hall at 3 p.m. on Wednesday.