Past Press Releases

For Immediate Release: October 2, 2017

Megan Cassidy, Senior Communications Associate
Wellesley Centers for Women
781.283.2483 \

Our Plural Selves: No Cause for Feelings of Fraudulence

Renowned scholar Peggy McIntosh, Ph.D., to discuss final paper in “Feeling Like a Fraud” series.

2017 fall 10 26 peggyfraud

*NOTE: The location of this event has been moved to the Clapp Library Lecture Room at Wellesley College. Shuttle service between the Wellesley Centers for Women Cheever House and the Wellesley College Library will be ongoing from 12-2pm on October 26th to accommodate visitors and staff, as on-campus parking near the Library is limited. The lecture will begin closer to 12:40 to allow for transport time. Thank you.

WELLESLEY, Mass. – In Sheryl Sandburg’s Lean In, she writes that she first heard of imposter syndrome -- the fear that we must not actually deserve any praise we receive -- at a speech given by Peggy McIntosh, Ph.D., in 1991. McIntosh, a senior research scientist at the Wellesley Centers for Women, began writing about this phenomenon in the 1980s and is still adding to her scholarship on the matter. On Thursday, October 26, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., she will discuss her new paper in the “Feeling Like a Fraud” series during the presentation, “Our Plural Selves: No Cause for Feelings of Fraudulence,” in the Clapp Library Lecture Room at Wellesley College. This program is part of the fall Lunchtime Seminar Series hosted by the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW), a program of Wellesley College.

Dr. McIntosh began her “Feeling Like a Fraud” series in 1985, after a conference she attended where 17 different female college presidents or deans used hedging speech when speaking in front of an open mic. Thinking about the paradox of these powerful women and their meek behavior, McIntosh reflected on the work of her colleague Jean Baker Miller, M.D., and theorized that the women felt like imposters in their public roles and were using relational speech to convey mutual respect. Dr. McIntosh gave a lecture on this idea at the Stone Center, and the talk became a working paper, which in turn led to the three-part “Feeling Like a Fraud” series.

Over 30 years later, Dr. McIntosh is completing her final paper in the series, extending on her previous work. During this presentation, she will explain her two part interpretation of fraudulence, a feeling she considers both deplorable and applaudable. It is deplorable for any group or person to be made to feel that they don’t belong. But, it is applaudable for any group or person to recognize that they are surrounded by fraudulent forms of ranking and judging. This paradox is no more complex than our experiences in general. McIntosh feels that holding both positions is part of the truth of our plural psyches. We do not have singular identities; we have plural identities and we should not be persuaded to formulate a simplified identity.

Dr. McIntosh is widely known for her writing and lectures on issues of equity and privilege as they relate to race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. In addition to her work on fraudulence, her work on White Privilege has gained widespread acclaim. Her groundbreaking 1989 paper “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” is one of the most cited works on the topic of White Privilege around the world. In addition to her work as a senior research scientist at WCW, she is founder of the National SEED Project, which she co-directed with Emily Style for 30 years, and is a former associate director at WCW.

The Lunchtime Seminar Series at the Wellesley Centers for Women is free and open to the public. Most programs are held Thursdays, 12:30 - 1:30 p.m. at the Centers’ Cheever House location (828 Washington St, Wellesley) and parking is available on site. Guests are invited to bring their lunches, and WCW will provide tea and coffee. For accessibility questions, contact Disability Services at Wellesley College at or call 781.283.2434. The Lunchtime Seminar Series schedule is subject to change. To confirm program lineup and location, call 781.283.2500 or visit

For those who are unable to attend in person, the program will be streamed live on the Wellesley Centers for Women Facebook page (@wcwonline). Recordings from past seminars are posted online at

The Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) is the largest academic, women-and gender-focused, social-change-driven, research-and-action institute in the United States, located at Wellesley College. Scholars at WCW advance gender equality, social justice, and human wellbeing through high-quality research, theory, and action programs. Areas of work include: Education, Economic Security, Mental Health, Youth and Adolescent Development, and Gender-Based Violence.

Related People & Projects

For Journalists

Media representatives seeking to speak with a Wellesley Centers for Women researcher or program staff member should contact the communications department to facilitate interviews or appropriate referrals:

  • 781.283.2483


Our website uses cookies to enhance your experience. By continuing to use our site, or clicking "Continue", you are agreeing to our privacy policy.
Continue Privacy Policy