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I thought that the Clay Shirky piece had two flaws. First the examples were mostly about people getting a key break by pretending to have a higher level of skill than they actually possessed. His headline grabbing phrase went far beyond the actual insight in the piece. Second the insight lacked plausibility. If you claim skills that you lack, you get caught.

This second flaw required amplification. There is a huge issue with creeping credentialism. This includes asking for skills that are not infact required. Naturally people lie about possessing these skills and escape detection because the question was bogus to begin with. However Shirky's article focused on examples where the skill was actually required and assessed. So there is a problem.

I respect Shirky so a question got lodged in my mind. He has seen and written about something real, but what? Two days later: a post on Hacker News about imposter syndrome. Now it makes more sense. You can draw but feel like a fraud, so when asked if you can draw, you say no. Then you are asked "how's your drafting?" It is good enough, but again you feel like an imposter and answer no. That is how opportunities are missed.

My badly written toplevel comment was intended to focus very narrowly on this area of intersection between the imposter piece and the Shirky piece.

No sweat. I've just read a lot about women's issues over the years and I think it very often gets short shrift. Even if women are 'more arrogant and self aggrandizing' or 'better at overcoming impostor syndrome'...or whatever the issue is here... That whole baby-bearing thing tends to trip them up. I've been close to some women who didn't initially have any particular plans to settle down and have kids and were all too happy to pursue life in a man's world on the terms offered. They did very well -- until they had a baby. Then it all came crashing down and they wound up enormously frustrated with their lives and bewildered at their inability to escape the fate of so many women that they thought for a time they had already escaped.

In contrast, European women have generally faired better than American women. Historically, they didn't fight for "rights". Instead, they worked for support and assistance for the burden of bearing and raising their kids. Getting that has allowed women in some European countries to close the wage gap to some extent and to do a better job of balancing career and family. They also generally have more family support and lower divorce rates. The typical historical American attitude of "Don't tread on me" (and the general F... You attitude that goes with it) works okay until you have a baby and then need community support of some sort. Then bitchy positions about not needing a man (or anyone else) suddenly don't work so well.

Um, I'll just stop here. Consider it a pet topic of mine. Okay? :)

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