“Impostors” Downshift Career Goals
A very interesting study was recently highlighted in the Science magazine’s careers section. It is about gender and science (once again), but from a slightly different perspective than usual. This time the research digs into the numbers behind (and effects of) impostorism. In this ‘condition’ one feels like an ‘imposter’, thinking that one’s achievements are not one’s own, or that one has somehow falsely achieved the current status and not due to objective merits.
More commonly called ‘low self esteem’ this is something that affects both men and women, but is according to this study, more prevalent in the case of female candidates. One example of the effects of impostorism
“people whose goals had shifted away from research-intensive, tenure-track positions and toward nontenure-track positions such as policy work or teaching”.
Ouch. That one certainly hit a cord.
“Both the quantitative and qualitative data, Collett says, suggest that impostorism plays a larger role than previously suspected in female scientists’ decisions to shift toward less competitive, less time- and energy-intensive careers”.
This is what we sometimes (can’t say often) debate at home: what are these ‘less time- and energy-intensive careers’? Sure, science can be time-consuming and intensive, but generally speaking, the ones that CAN achieve high posts and stakes in science would go on to do so in business/public sector as well, right? And I would still say, in science there are people who never make professor, or if do so, don’t have a big research group and constant worry of sufficient funding for a wealth of staff. We cannot really quantify the commitments needed for a successful scientific career (yeh, try defining that one), so why do we propose in rhetorics that it is somehow ‘more’ that what we are already doing? I think what we need to keep aspiring women and men interested in this job, is a change in wording and attitudes. Come off our high horses and just ‘get on with it’. (And go home for dinner.)
This (link below) would have been an excellent article to use as partial evidence in the recent Commons Select Committee call for evidence.