Monday, December 22, 2014

Provider Syndrome

There has been enough talk already about "Imposter Syndrome" among astronomers. It is basically the feeling that one should not be in the field because everyone else is more qualified/smarter etc and one is going to be found out any minute. It is something most critical thinking people suffer from.
Or should...I'd see it as a sign of psychopathy if one didn't...

But here I want to note something that (maybe) predominantly affects men in Astronomy because of the way society is still structured. As soon as one has a family, i.e. actual "dependents", people who depend on you for everything (talking about kids, cats are not people), men tend to get a bit more competitive/serious about their job.

It's "provider syndrome". YOU are SOLELY responsible for these wee ones to have enough diapers/food/playstations to consume. Also: please fight off all predators.
Since the last item is not really on the list, society implicitly assumes you can't do things like parent (I mean the bar would be subterranean if it were any lower), all the pressure is to "provide".

Funny enough this is not actually in many points of peer-to-peer contact (like the issues we keep hearing about that women in STEM face, I mean oh boy) but it is deeply ingrained in our culture.
For example, no one would take a male postdoc serious if he opted for an 80% contract (I mean that is just negotiating a paycut right? Macho culture at work).

But the funny thing is: the pressure really IS on. With the physical demands of kids and the fun ways postdoc positions *rarely* seem to come with work visa/opportunities for spouses, the male postdoc *is* the provider in a competitive field. It reminds me of the T-shirt that says "if the zombie apocalypse comes, I'm tripping you". Probably. The kids will get away.

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