Men in science

This from Katherine Reynolds Lewis in Slate, in an interesting article about why men lie to social scientists about how much childcare they do:

Take Jorge Torrico, 29, a bank manager who lives in Burke, Va., with his wife, Yoonji Kim, and their two toddler sons. Coming into marriage, his idealistic goal was to be an affectionate father and equal partner with his wife. They both work, and he figured that whenever the inevitable child-care emergency arose, they would decide who could handle it on the spot. But when it’s Torrico’s turn, he encounters astonishment from some colleagues who “can’t conceptualize that the father is the one taking responsibility for some of these things: the doctor’s appointment, taking care of the sick child.” Once, he was without child care and had to take his son to a monthly team meeting at work, held in the early evening. One peep from the preschooler, and Torrico was admonished not to bring him again. “The workplace doesn’t really accept the modern-day father,” he concluded.

I’ll say this for academia; fathers deal with a lot less of this nonsense than they do in the quote, real, unquote, world.  Nobody in the department blinks if I have to leave early to pick up CJ from day care, or stay home with him because he’s sick; or if I bring him to number theory seminar, or a faculty meeting, because preschool is off for the day.  I wonder if academic moms reading this feel the same way.

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5 thoughts on “Men in science

  1. Jen says:

    I think that people blink, but not too much, and I stopped paying attention to it a long time ago. When I was a grad student and K was a baby, I know several people just assumed that I was “somebody’s wife.” :)

    I do not think that it is uniform in academia, though. Unfortunately, I don’t think that our staff would be given the same deference for bringing children in to the office that I am.

  2. Em says:

    You really brought him to a number theory seminar! That is awesome, but then CJ is awesome. I can barely bring my children to the grocery store without issue.

  3. Steve says:

    Fathers in academia worry that child responsibilities will prevent them from actually completing academic work (writing papers, etc) but probably– compared to fathers in the for-profit world– we don’t worry as much about the APPEARANCE that child care is a hindrance to professional accomplishment, only about the reality.

    Because the cultural assumption remains, even in academia, than men outsource child care and that women take it on, when a father brings a young child to an academic event it’s sort of a dog bites man story, or an awww-cute moment. Is the same thing true for academic moms? It should be, but is it?

  4. Tina says:

    Working dads do, in general, get a lot of static when it comes to child-related needs (most significantly, many men do not take parental leave after the birth of a child), but it’s not all sunshine for working moms. It might be more accepted for women to take post-birth leave or to rush off when a child is sick, but that acceptance bleeds into an assumption that women aren’t going to be there, work-wise, when it matters…which of course turns into diminished opportunities for advancement, better pay and all the rewards that come with being perceived as a valuable employee and “team player.”

    Although I know a lot of men who wouldn’t dream of taking a month off after the birth of their child, I have noticed the nodding approval when a dad says he has to go deal with a child-related need (extra bonus points if its a manly thing, like coaching a baseball team)…he’s a hardworking employee AND a doting dad! Whatta guy! On the flip side, a lot of working moms I know will take pains to conceal the real reason they’ve got to go home early, since being a doting mom is a negative at work, rather than a sign that you’re particularly skilled at multitasking and “doing it all”. I personally put school events on my calendars as “meetings” so as not to seem too mommy-ish.

    At bottom, the US workplace needs do better by its working parents — too many employers merely tolerate the fact that we have offspring and all the attendant responsibilities, despite the fact that the health and wealth of society at large is dependent on how well these kids are being raised and cared for.

  5. Jorge Torrico says:

    I’ll tell you, when she interviewed me, the premise of the article was not explained. I felt railroaded when I saw it was about “Dad’s Lying in Surveys” about their contributions to the typically female gender roles.

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