Start Building Your Professional Network at ABRCMS
By Alfredo G. Torres, Ph.D., University of Texas Medical Branch
If you’re a member of an underrepresented minoritized group in science, you’ve probably experienced “imposter syndrome” at some point in your career.
Imposter syndrome is defined as having self-doubt about your accomplishments despite evidence of your success and people telling you that you deserve what you’ve achieved. Scientific evidence has shown that imposter syndrome is prevalent across genders and minoritized groups, with a particularly high prevalence among racially and ethnically minoritized groups in the U.S.
Interestingly, there are not many studies that explore how minoritized individuals can combat imposter syndrome. However, there are common practices that we all utilize as members of minoritized groups that help us combat these pervasive moments of doubt.
As you advance in your scientific career, you will find fewer and fewer people who “look like you” and more people who might not understand what it means to be the first in the family to attend college or enroll in a graduate program. As members of underserved communities, we tend to have brotherhoods/sisterhoods, tribes, or “la Familia” (the family) that rally around us and support us. But what happens when you attend your scientific conference to present your work and you don’t have your support group with you?
Well, I hope the first conference you attend is the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists (ABRCMS). If you attend this conference, you have probably already shown your talent as a scientist “in progress” through experiments in the laboratory, and its likely you have supportive mentors and colleagues. And at ABRCMS, you will be surrounded by trainees, faculty and people who look like you who have worked so hard to make it here. This conference is designed to provide you with the tools to combat imposter syndrome.
ABRCMS is a great place to start building your “family/tribe/hood” that will support you when you need them. So don’t spend all of your time at the conference with your friends and colleagues from your institution. Instead, try to meet new people with similar scientific interests who can support you when you need them.
I can’t tell you how many colleagues I’ve met at ABRCMS conferences who have become loyal friends and supporters of my scientific career. I hope you are as lucky as me.