The premise of the impostor phenomenon and how to combat it managed to draw more than 100 women together at Wollongong restaurant Centro CBD on Thursday.
Expert Dr Terri Simpkin spoke at a lunch organised by the Illawarra Business Chamber, explaining it was a key reason behind women not taking leadership roles.
The Chamber's Janine Cullen originally had organised a small group to meet with Dr Simpkin, but so many women wanted to hear her speak it lead to hiring a function room while women were only invited to attend because numbers were limited.
"This is not a syndrome, it could happen in one situation and not another, it could happen at work and not at home," Dr Simpkin said. "And it's not self-doubt."
She explained while men could experience the phenomenon it largely affected women - especially due to other compounding gender inequity factors.
Impostor phenomenon is characterized by feelings of fear and failure, perfectionism, being scrutinized and labelled as a "fake", according to Dr Simpkin.
Her research also found it has strong links to anxiety and depression, and could be self-handicapping to people experiencing it. It was a reason many women didn't apply for higher positions because they didn't have the "review mirror" to remind them of their previous achievements and success, she said.
Women from all types of businesses - from IRT, to Bluescope workers in hi-vis and corporate leaders - listened intently.
Strategies outlined by Dr Simpkin to overcome the phenomenon included "examining your stories" and actually acknowledge your achievements, "diminish negative self talk" and get a mentor or coach who will tell you like it really is.
More from Dr Simpkin can be found at ww.braverstrongersmarter.com