A vocation

The criteria for scientific excellence also reflect a tacit expectation, namely that of demonstrating that you are committed to a « true vocation ». 

The content of this social construction varies. Generally, for doctoral students, this implies adopting a certain number of standards but also submitting to a whole series of symbolic practices that demonstrate their desire and ability to become researchers with a scientific future.

For example, a young researcher must show that they are willing to move and live elsewhere if necessary, become involved in committees or councils and work weekends to build up their research dossier, etc.

Within the frame of reference of the academic world, family life and involvement in associations and cultural activities are still perceived as potential obstacles to a promising career, particularly for women. Indeed, while parenthood is never seen as something that could disrupt the scientific commitment of a man, it’s still often the case for women researchers, regardless of whether or not this features in their plans.

Given the risk posed by these symbolic barriers in terms of forcing doctoral students to abandon their career plans, the support of the thesis supervisor is very important.

Networks, both formal (e.g. doctoral schools, mentoring programmes, etc.) and informal (exchanges between doctoral students, associations and active groups) are also important forms of support.