The Rise of Self Sidelining

48 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2017 Last revised: 30 Aug 2019

See all articles by Leslie Culver

Leslie Culver

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law

Date Written: December 1, 2017


When the impostor phenomenon collides with gender sidelining, the result is a false endorsement of inadequacy, which leads women to self sideline. This Article describes self sidelining as an experience emanating from two theories: impostor phenomenon and gender sidelining. It first discusses the “impostor phenomenon,” a psychological construct that describes the inability of high-achieving women and men to internalize success. Second, it discusses “gender sidelining,” a recent phenomenon in legal scholarship that describes the undermining of women’s achievements as compared to men that is unactionable as legal discrimination. Finally, it suggests that when internal impostor feelings collide with external gender sidelining acts, self sidelining occurs. This paper characterizes self sidelining as women’s false endorsement of inadequate feelings that when externally validated by male gender preference, cause women to consciously or subconsciously discipline themselves to forgo their professional advancement. Despite significant advances in legal theories and protections for traditionally diverse and underrepresented groups, there are still notable areas where the law is absent to balance injustices and compel inclusivity. Ultimately, this Article exposes the social harm of self sidelining, even absent adequate legal remedies, and urges its awareness and presence in the ongoing gender inequity discussion in the legal profession.

Keywords: impostor phenomenon, gender sidelining, self sidelining, women in legal profession, gender inequity in legal profession

Suggested Citation

Culver, Leslie, The Rise of Self Sidelining (December 1, 2017). Women's Rights Law Reporter, Vol. 39, 2018, California Western School of Law Research Paper No. 18-2, Available at SSRN:

Leslie Culver (Contact Author)

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States

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