I have been with my current employer for a bit more than 2 years. In theory I like a lot about my workplace- there are interesting projects, I can learn a lot, people are nice in general.

But there is one thing: I feel like the black sheep of my team. That somehow I cannot really make a difference. It is like I could just leave and never come back and nobody would ever notice. I have pretty strong colleagues who are very experienced in their field and have obviously very strong communication skills. One of them has many many years more practical experience in our working field than I and the other has a huge self-esteem. Somehow both are always invited to all meetings and asked for their opinions. I have trouble catching up with them because I lack both the experience and the communication skills/confidence to apparently make the same impression on others. That is why I always feel like I live in their shadows and can only step out if one (or better both) of them are not there.

I tried to explain this to my team lead but he just smiled and did not really provide any useful feedback or guidance. Basically he said, it will get better with time when I feel more confident about my position in the team..but how could I? Everything that I try to mention is smashed down by the other two because they feel so great about themselves, leaving me even more insecure.

I started thinking about looking for another job but I am not sure this will solve the problem because I might encounter a similar issue. Also what should I tell as reason for change? That I could not handle people? Does not sound like a great reference...in times were team players are valued so much...

It would be better to deal with such situations but I do not even know where to start. I would like to have the same longterm experience as that one colleague but unfortunately I cannot turn back time to catch up (he is older than me anyways). And confidence-wise I also cannot catch up because I do not want to be one of those pretenders with a big mouth but nothing behind.

I wonder if this is one of those "woman in male-dominated career" things or just a personality issue...in any case I am not sure how to improve my situation. Perhaps anybody has encountered a similar situation at work and can elaborate how to deal with it?

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    not sure this helps. I stumped upon this term "impostor syndrome" and agree it could be relevant in my case but I cannot be sure. All I know is I am super unhappy with the situation and I am not sure "just wait and see" is enough.
    – Eve
    Feb 19, 2020 at 12:11
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    Honestly, I would read up on it a bit more - I think it's potentially even more comment in tech for women to feel it than men because of the whole "woman in male-dominated career". If you're truly unhappy then of course brush up your cv and look elsewhere, but I doubt you would feel different somewhere else - from what you've described
    – Gamora
    Feb 19, 2020 at 12:15
  • why not learn more? you could study at night on the topics that you are weak in, whatever they might be
    – bharal
    Feb 19, 2020 at 13:22
  • Welcome to the site @Eve. Questions like "what should I do?" are considered off-topic here because we can't give personal career advice and it's hard to answer a question that depends so heavily on your own abilities, preferences or circumstances. We can answer specific questions on how to handle a workplace situation, accomplish a goal or come to a decision on a practical problem. If you can reword your question to fit those criteria please do so, otherwise your post may be closed. Check out the tour and help center for more.
    – Lilienthal
    Feb 19, 2020 at 15:29

2 Answers 2


Two things:

  1. Learn from them. From the one who has excellent skills. But also from the one with a huge ego. What does he do differently than you? Can you copy it or adapt to your situation and/or personality? What works and what doesn't? Does he take risks and present his ideas even if they are not that good? Does he network a lot?
  2. Think about how you could start taking over more advanced tasks to make a difference. You don't describe your situation in detail so it's difficult to make a detailed suggestion here, but you can probably try asking your manager to take over ownership for some project or, if you have a good relationship with your colleagues, ask them to participate in their tasks.

Being a woman in a "male field" is difficult. In my case networking is much more difficult. Most seniors are men. And if I ask them to grab a coffee or lunch some time to talk about their tasks (or something) they immediately mention their girlfriends or wives. But there are things which are possible.


Basically he said, it will get better with time

Yes it will.

You're experiencing what the majority experience, a slow lead up to competence which comes with time and learning. You appear to have a great job because there isn't huge pressure to perform.

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    but how can it get better? It's been already 1.5 years in this team and the situation is extremely unfulfilling. Plus keep in mind every year we have a review where I have to praise my achievements...which is a big challenge because I do not feel like I have big achievements...
    – Eve
    Feb 19, 2020 at 11:59
  • 1.5 years isn't much. You grow a lot more and it accelerates once you have the basics down as habit. I'm not sure what unfulfilling means. You don't get paid?
    – Kilisi
    Feb 19, 2020 at 12:01
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    of course I get paid but probably not enough - compared to my colleagues who have the same "senior" title as me...but I do not feel like I can act as senior next to them. That is what I mean by unfulfilling - I cannot meet my own expectations.
    – Eve
    Feb 19, 2020 at 12:04
  • That's a personal issue, not a problem with your workplace I would think. The workplace isn't really responsible for your expectations. In your case you have the time and opportunity, can't ask for a lot more.
    – Kilisi
    Feb 19, 2020 at 12:23

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