Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bonus Post on "shifting" rationale

From the mentornet website:

I got this in an email. I really appreciate how the author summarizes the phenomenon so succinctly.

Subconscious Bias Perpetuates Gender Gap

Last week we were invited to attend the 2010 NCWIT summit in Portland, Oregon, with its impressive array of presentations. One in particular, "The role of implicit bias in perpetuation of the gender gap in science and technology" by Dr. Brian Nosek, Department of Psychology at University of Virginia, made me wonder how much we are at the mercy of subconscious factors when we make decisions, even when we have the best of intentions.

One of the studies cited found that when asked which firefighter had the best credentials for promotion, the percentage was always higher for the male candidate, no matter which credentials were attached. And when the participants were asked why they had chosen this candidate, they did not say that it was because of his gender. They were convinced that it was the credentials that influenced their decision. According to the researcher, this phenomenon is called "shifting": when the criterion moves in order to accommodate a subconscious prejudice. The difficulty in fighting this phenomenon is that the person making the decision is not conscious at all that it was gender that determined the final outcome and not the credentials.

-Alejandra Velásquez, Director of Media and Communications

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Journal of unpublication

This is just getting embarrassing. I missed it when Drugmonkey blogged about it, but at least The Scientist did credit him (yo!).

Two highlights from this article that really stuck out to me:

investigation at the Mayo Clinic concluded that one of the lab's researchers, Suresh Radhakrishnan, "tampered with another investigator's experiment with the intent to mislead"

Um, seriously? This is like something out of a premed organic chem lab! Scary!! Can't leave that shit unattended for even one minute!!

But if you got a weird result, wouldn't you, um, at least, do it, like, OVER AGAIN? Or have someone else try to reproduce it, just in case you were doing something weird?

Does that mean these authors either

a) didn't reproduce the results multiple times or
b) he tampered with the results MULTIPLE TIMES??

Gah! That's one of my worst nightmares. That somebody (let's say for example, my PI) might tamper with my samples! But that's why I try to do everything several times several ways to make sure I'm not imagining it. Still, I don't know if I would be able to detect it if someone were sneaky and consistently screwing around with my stuff.

And as Drugmonkey quoted from the PNAS article, I guess this is the problem:

"..In no case did these repeat studies reveal any evidence that the B7-DCXAb reagent had the previously reported activity."

The missing ingredient was the tamperer!

The other thing from The Scientist article was a point I keep hammering like a very dead horse:

I was surprised about this retraction from [Journal of Experimental Biology]" -- the lab's first publication about B7-DCXAb -- "because the groups involved enjoy an excellent reputation in the field," said Melero of the University of Navarra.

Yeah, because reputation determines the OUTCOME of your experiments.


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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Exodus to marketing?

Is it just me? I can name about 15 female friends with PhDs who all left bench science for policy, writing, marketing, sales, and public relations jobs despite being very good at the bench. Not all of them loved the bench, but some did.

Seems like a lot of women think they'll have an easier time, for at least three major reasons:

1. Gender ratio - more women in these other positions means less sexism than in a "wet lab" position
2. More flexible hours/shorter hours than research positions (easier to balance with family)
3. More jobs available (especially now)
4. They're encouraged by women already in these jobs (the network is already in place)

It's really sad to me because most of them say they don't really use their PhD or bench experience at all. A few say bitterly that they could have left after a year or two of grad school and that should have been enough, but they felt like they needed the PhD stamp of approval.

I think this is what the hole in the postdoc pipeline looks like. A giant arrow pointing from PhD ---> sales.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

public service message




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Friday, May 21, 2010

oscillating popularity

this is kinda weird. Why the cycling up and down, I wonder?

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Response to comments on last post

Sorry to have to do this in a separate post, but Blogger ate my last attempt and now there are even more comments here...

Becca wrote: Oh the horror! He offered you a job- how very offensive. ;-)
Mind you, it sounds like this particular fellow was a jerk and managed to blow the communication badly. Maybe there was some body-language

Becca, it wasn't a tenure-track job. And I have it in writing.

Kea wrote:the MAJORITY of women with jobs have partners in the field, or a closely related one

which also kind of answers profgrrrl's question about how common it is. This is also the case in my field (and Kea and I are in different fields).

geekmommy prof: I misunderstood. I thought your comment implied that you both have tenure-track jobs. That is what I mean when I'm talking about couple hires.

you also wrote:

you present your advisor as a spineless, gutless, completely uncreative shmuck. Yet he must have had some redeeming qualities at least when he was young, otherwise he would not have been hired

He had pedigree. And he does have some skillz.

He is also uncreative, extremely clueless in many ways, and a big fat liar. But I never said spineless or gutless. In fact I think it takes great courage (or arrogance?) to be a brazen, self-serving liar.

Good luck to you and your group.

Anon 6 pm wrote: Another implicit assumption you are making is that anytime someone makes a spousal hire, someone else does not get hired. Being on the other side of the hiring committee, I can assure you that this is not true. I have seen several occasions when deans have opened up specific slots for spousal hires from some sort of faculty-retention fund, and these positions are positions the department would have never gotten otherwise; the money would have simply been lying around in the university

This may be so at very rich places, but in the current climate, and at most universities, it is either/or, not both.

Very few schools have a lot of money "lying around" with which to hire tenure-track faculty and give them startup.

Lou Dobbs: you bring up the important aspect that being a woman in any department can be crazymaking. I already had that as a postdoc. I think this is a MAJOR reason why a lot of talented women leave academic science. On top of having to defend your research to peers both internally and externally, women have to fight an extra battle for credibility in the career path just because we're women.

I lost.

Anon 6:02, thanks for commiserating! sorry you are getting this too. congrats on the job! you're one of the lucky few. Very few.

prodigal academic wrote: The employer doesn't care about sampling the whole wide world of available employees.

This is a major point for women and minorities and why our numbers in the tenure-track are not representative of our numbers coming into the pipeline.

particularly in regions where professional jobs are difficult to find.

This is actually a believable argument, and it makes sense to me. But I've seen a lot of spousal hires in major, multi-institution cities with a high density of job opportunities.

Anon 3:47 wrote: In addition to dealing with male scientists in her department with super-egos, now she even has to deal with people like you!

Um, no, she doesn't. I'm not there.

Don't you think you are being hypocritical here by assuming that just because a woman was hired as a spousal hire, she has no merit?

I never said that, actually. I've been talking more in general about whether this women are a) willing or b) able to act as mentors to younger women, given that they got their jobs via a rather specialized route that may not apply to their mentees.

In my field, when I went looking for women mentors to help me with my applications for faculty positions, I realized that almost none of them had gotten their jobs by applying on their own. I asked anyway; they had no idea how to advise me.

And actually I also want to point out that all of my spousal hire complaints apply to men, too. It's just that in my field it's still mostly the husbands being recruited and the wives following; others have posted here (and on previous posts) that they know of several examples in other disciplines where the wife was recruited and the husband followed (as in geekmommyprof's case, except that her spouse took a non-tenure track position).

I've read FSP's blog for a long time, as have most of my readers (I think). I often find her posts inspirational, but she's coming from a slightly(?) older generation, a very different discipline, and she's just one person. She has been highly successful, I think, and may not be representative of the average experience of most women in science. Neither would I say that I am representative of the "average experience". But on the spectrum from me to her, I think we both have valid points to make, and deserve to be heard.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

more on spousal hiring

I'm not really in the mood to read this and all the links therein, but you might be.

We definitely had an interesting discussion here when I wrote about some ramifications of spousal hiring in a previous post.

I'm glad to see people are talking about it, even if it won't make one bit of difference to my career.

I really do think some people don't realize how potentially complicated and offensive the subject can be.

I recently had a professor tell me he could have gotten me a job as an addendum to hiring MrPhD.

I was disgusted that he actually implied I wasn't worth hiring otherwise, and didn't invite me to apply on my own, if there really were openings (and I'm not sure there are, this guy has a reputation for lies, damn lies, and politics).

MrPhD didn't want the job anyway. The whole exchange was so smarmy that I decided I wouldn't want to apply.

But it was pretty upsetting. I sometimes wonder if these kinds of things are technically (borderline?) illegal?

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Say it ain't so.

Recently heard another story about a postdoc whose NIH fellowship application was triaged. No score, no rank, it really was that bad.

This person got a named fellowship.

The thing about named fellowships is, they are very prestigious.

Why? I don't really know. Because there are fewer of them, I guess, it is assumed that they are more competitive, and therefore reflective of more ability, more hard work, or more achievement.

But it seems like hard work and achievement have nothing to do with it. It seems like these awards are very political. From what I can tell, they are based entirely on pedigree.

It's almost like they're awarded more to the PI than to the postdoc.

Now, we can debate the wisdom of awarding "training" funds to the PI vs. the postdoc, but I like the way the NIH and some other agencies treat postdocs as almost-independent investigators.

The NIH fellowship application is about as close as you can get to writing a mini-R01 at the postdoc level (before the K-grants, which most people don't apply for initially anyway). The NIH application is pretty involved, and it's great practice for writing a K or an R01.

So here's my thinking: if you can't sit down and put in the time and effort and come up with a passable NIH fellowship, how are you going to do with writing R01s?

I'm guessing you'll do pretty badly.

Then again, with an expected 5+ years of postdoc experience, you should have plenty of time to take workshops on grantwriting, and practice by writing grants in your PIs name. Right? After all, you're there for the training (ha ha ha).

I'm not saying that government funding is necessarily better, or that we shouldn't also have private funding agencies.

I'm just wondering why we still revere these private fellowships as if they reflect more ability, hard work or achievement in science, when in reality they're really only reflective of pedigree and politics.

I was talking to MrPhD about how I was writing this post and he asked, "Does anybody even track whether the people who get those named fellowships are more likely to succeed in academia?"

Does anybody track that, indeed. (I don't think so?)

Most of the people I know who got named fellowships have since dropped out of academia to go to industry.

I'm wondering if this phenomenon of placing too much emphasis on named fellowships also contributes to the stories I've been hearing about junior faculty not being able to get grants.

Some departments have been taking extreme measures to try to protect themselves from making the mistake of hiring people who have no chance of succeeding at getting R01s.

Here's what I think has happened in the past. Let's say we have a person called Person A.

1. Gets pedigree - famous grad school, famous advisor, etc.
2. Gets named postdoc fellowship based on pedigree
3. Gets interviews for faculty positions based on prestige of named fellowship
4. Gets large startup package
5. Can't get grants funded
6. Doesn't get papers published
7. Doesn't get tenure/leaves academia

Here's a different scenario, one that seems to happen more often. Person B:

1. Gets an NIH fellowship
2. Fellowship runs out
3. Does not get interviews for faculty positions
4. Quits science.

Nowhere in here are we comparing scientific achievement. I'm assuming these people have equivalent publication records. Things have become so competitive now, and departments so wary, that it seems to be all about funding.

If anything, it seems like named fellowships are great in the short term for the people who get them, but dangerous for everyone in the long term. These funding mechanisms seem to encourage political games and contribute to the devaluation of grantwriting skills - supposedly one of the most important parts of being a PI and having your own lab. It's bad for the awardees, and it's bad for the departments who want to hire them. They haven't completed the training!

Nowadays, of course, we have to insert an additional step: applying for career transition/pseudo-independent funding.

Who do you think is more competitive for that? In theory, if the money is coming from an NIH K-grant, it should be a pretty level playing field, between the named fellowship person As who can't write grants, and the non-pedigreed person Bs who write grants really well.

Still, from what I can tell, career transition awards are a minefield with the worst of all worlds. They require recommendation letters and career development plans with all the right catchwords. And they require an entire grant in the format of an R01.

In that sense, a named fellowship is just one step on a long ladder, and I'm not sure if it provides the same kind of boost than it once did. But usually they pay more, and they still have more prestige, which still looks better on a CV at the job application stage.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

wall of shame.

15 findings of misconduct for one guy: Scott Brodie knowingly and intentionally falsified data at the University of Washington.

Incredibly, this includes multiple examples of fake or manipulated data included in a long list of peer reviewed grants, i.e.

1 P01 HD40540-01 (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development [NICHD], National Institutes of Health [NIH])
5 P01 HD40540-02 (NICHD, NIH)
1 P01 AI057005-01 (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases [NIAID], NIH)
1 R01 DE014149-01 (National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research [NIDCR], NIH)
2 U01 AI41535-05 (NIAID, NIH)
1 R01 HL072631-01 (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [NHLBI], NIH)
1 R01 (U01) AI054334-01 (NIAID, NIH)
1 R01 DE014827-01 (NIDCR, NIH)
1 R01 AI051954-01 (NIAID, NIH)

and a couple of published manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals.

I'm always amazed at how long this stuff goes on before anybody notices or does anything about it. We're always taught to give our peers the benefit of the doubt, and even when we suspect fraud, it's rare that anyone pursues filing a complaint or requesting an investigation.

In this case, the punishment is described as such:

1) Dr. Brodie has been debarred from any contracting or subcontracting with any agency of the United States Government and from eligibility or involvement in nonprocurement programs of the United States Government referred to as "covered transactions" pursuant to the Department of Health and Human Service's Implementation (2 CFR part 376 et seq.) of OMB Guidelines to Agencies on Governmentwide Debarment and Suspension, 2 CFR part 180; and

(2) Dr. Brodie is prohibited from serving in any advisory capacity to PHS including but not limited to service on any PHS advisory committee, board, and/or peer review committee, or as consultant.

I think this means that he can still go work at any privately funded institute or company that will take him, and continue to do research, see patients, or consult for industry (?).

There were also more widely reported (at least so far as I already knew about) findings of misconduct by Boris Cheskis and Emily Horvath.

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Friday, May 07, 2010

Smartening up: who would ever wanna be king?

Got this Coldplay song stuck in my head. Seriously though, it's relevant.

Random tidbits from the trenches: Special Quitting Research Edition!

• Friend is leaving her postdoc, early on. I think it's very smart to get out now. I hope she can find something that pays well, but at least she likes her parents enough that she wouldn't mind living with them if she had to.

• Another friend is planning her escape from grad school, and debating what to do next. Not research, she says. I don't blame her at all, but it's really a waste. She's one of the most talented people I ever worked with.

• Another friend is graduating, and his wife is planning to leave grad school when he defends. They're both planning to look for non-science careers. The husband has been reasonably successful with a supportive advisor, but disheartened nonetheless by some of the things he witnessed going on in the lab (data faking, among other things). The wife has been struggling pretty much from the beginning, with an unsupportive advisor, in an unsupportive graduate program.

• Another friend says she's ready to try applying for industry positions again, but this time plans to go for sales rather than science. She's gotten the impression that despite her PhD and postdoctoral work experience, she can't get a position as a scientist, but she might be able to get something that capitalizes on her science background on paper while mostly utilizing her social skills to do the actual work.

• Wife of another friend is leaving her assistant professor position. Rationalizations include that her husband can make more money in his non-science career, but they'll have to move. Also, she wants to spend more time with their baby. She already took maternity leave; the husband stayed home for a year because he could work from home, but she does lab research. Seems to me that the countries with 9 months-2 years paid maternity leave (e.g. Sweden, Canada) should have a better chance of hanging onto women's careers, but I don't know if that's actually true.

• Another friend just quit a postdoc to take a higher-paying non-science job. Ironically, that same day we learned that a coworker in the same lab was making 20% more salary all along. Why? No particular reason. No fellowships of any kind involved. Just the usual nonsense: nobody checking, nobody talking to each other, nobody negotiating, and nobody getting paid what they're worth.

• Another friend quit a tenure-track position, again due to a two-body problem, and left to go back to school for something different.

Note that this list includes 5 women and 3 men, all with more or less the same number of years in grad school, plus or minus postdoctoral experience.

Anyway it's sad to me because in all of these cases, these are smart, talented people who just feel like it's a dead-end: that no matter how hard they work, achievement is not rewarded, and there's no work-life balance at all.

And this is all happening right now. In a way, it's encouraging to see that people are wising up (yay, wisdom!).

Can't wait to see what happens next month. Tune in to see if we have another edition of Smartening Up!

Or, remind me. Who knows what I'll be doing next month.

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Monday, May 03, 2010

Denial is a bitch

Every once in a while, I write a post because I read something that makes my blood boil. This particular piece was written by Eileen Burbidge (@eileentso), an early-stage tech angel-investor, and as you'll see, there's nothing angelic about her.

In this case, she writes as a woman who contradicts herself by arguing that offering opportunities specifically for women is "patronizing", even while admitting that It’s not pleasant (or wise) if someone shuts a door on me strictly because I’m a woman.

And yet, she writes an entire post as if this never happens. And she writes as if, when it does, it means the women are not qualified.

Lady, you can't have it both ways. And I think you're in a denier.

By her own admission, she works in a male-dominated atmosphere, and yet she seems to completely miss the point. She writes,

I currently work in the @whitebearyard office space with a lot of men over 2 floors. I’m quite certain that each one of them (or at least most of them) are acutely aware whenever there is a woman in the office. Full stop. They know if a woman enters the office, steps into the floor or is here for a meeting. In this setting, women get a lot more attention than “just another guy”. And if a woman in this setting cannot make a positive impression or assert her value as a prospective vendor, partner, employee/consultant, then maybe she’s actually not qualified or capable enough – or not wanting it.

What really makes me angry is exactly this atmosphere. Full stop.

The sheer inability to understand what it's like for women who have been harassed and abused to the point where even just walking into a situation where all the men suddenly perk up and look you over, head to toe, is enough to make you want to turn around and go home.

The feeling that, no matter what you wear, or how articulate you are, everyone is too obsessed with your female dog-suit to really hear what you're saying.

And by everyone, this can include women. This woman in particular, sounds like the type who thinks no women are ever as good as she is.

My last job had this all-men, all-the-time atmosphere. I hated just walking to my office.

And the feeling never wore off, because there weren't enough other women around. The men never got tired of staring at me like I was a chunk of meat.

Now, they may not have had any intentions of making me uncomfortable, but nobody told them not to do it, or introduced me as an equal, either.

When you go on a job interview, when you're going to be nervous already, and this is the atmosphere, how would you feel?

How about if you're already highly sensitized to it after an entire career of being treated like an unworthy object? Do you think you're likely to do your best?

Of course not.

Does that mean you're not qualified? Not capable?

Of course not.

Does that mean you're not wanting it badly enough?

Fuck you, lady, for even insinuating that "badly enough" means we should be happy to put up with being treated like meat.

You have no fucking idea what you're talking about. I resent the idea that you get to speak for women in any field remotely related to technology.

You're the last kind of person I would want as an advisor to my career, or anyone else's.


Having said all that, reading the comments on this post, I get a completely different impression.

For example, there was this exchange:

“I have never heard a woman in tech say she did not receive something because she is a woman. Can you provide some examples of this, as it seems to be your primary reason for the dearth of women in tech?”

While I have heard of women saying this, I agree with you that I’ve never heard it firsthand (and it doesn’t represent my experience nor that of female friends and colleagues) — which is *precisely* the point of my post! I wrote this in response to quite a few other articles I’ve read over the past month or so “blaming” the issue on a systemic issue or bias against women, men who weren’t paying enough attention to hiring women or other such reasons — blaming and in my view complaining about things.

She also writes in response to a comment that tech is better than most industries (more on this in Part II)

So now I'm curious to see what she writes about in Part II. Which fields is she referring to? Business? And whether she might be right that guys in the Tech sector are better than in other fields.

My impression of guys in Tech is twofold:

(1) They tend to be relentlessly logical, which I like, because it means I can often convince them of my point of view more easily than the men in my field

(2) They have never worked with women, so they tend to have many misconceptions about what women are like, based on what they see in videogames and movies. In other words, we might kick ass, but we're still sex objects.

However, (2) can be overcome with (1).

Which is more than I can say for my field, or for the women who also contribute to the culture of denial.

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Sunday, May 02, 2010

Science is great: Just don't major in it

Yesterday I read an article about the layoffs at ABC. The author wrote that about 400 people were laid off, and interviewed one guy in particular who said he was 58 years old, had a family and "a dog who likes to be fed" and no idea how he was going to be able to get a job at his age, at a time when journalism is disappearing and the economy is still pretty shitty.

This got me thinking about how journalism, such as it used to be, is dying. I recommend checking out this blog if you don't know what I'm talking about.

Why does it matter that journalism is dying?

For one thing, I see universities going the same way: to be replaced by the internet. We should be paying attention to what is happening to journalists, because the same thing will happen to academic faculty.

Another reason to pay attention is that among the many so-called Alternative Careers science graduate programs love to tout, Science Journalism is usually listed as one of the top options.

But clearly, that's not going to absorb all the scientists leaving with masters degrees and PhDs.

I regularly receive articles about pharmaceutical and biotech layoffs. Yesterday I read one that said no one is really sure how many scientists are out of work right now, or whether it's better or worse than it was two years ago.

Really? No one is tracking this?

I regularly hear NIH and NSF saying that PhD-holding scientists supposedly have among the lowest unemployment rates, but that may be completely apocryphal, and it sounds like nobody actually has the numbers to back it up.

Which would not surprise me, considering that no one was tracking postdocs at all until about 5 years ago. How could they possibly know? There isn't exactly a strong biotech-wide union.

What else is among the top "alternative careers" touted so widely as a solution for the overflow of PhDs who can't get academic tenure-track positions?

Teaching in public or charter schools, maybe. Sure, we need more science teachers. But where is the money for that going to come from? I read an article today about how education specialists can't decide whether charter schools are working better than public schools or not. I found many of the lessons (pun intended) quite relevant to higher education: that schools with the highest accountability showed improvement, while those that tolerated mediocrity stayed in business despite showing no progress.

What about science policy work? How many jobs can that really provide? My guess would be in the hundreds, maybe the low thousands, at most?

But we have tens of thousands of science PhDs in this country. And nobody seems to know how many are doing anything related to science within, let's say, 15 years of leaving their PhD program. Let's say you do 5-10 years of postdoc after you graduate. Then what? Where do you end up?

And sure, you can always go back to school for patent law. How many science PhDs are going into debt to attend, of all things, more school??

At some extreme, if we're really being hyperbolic and facetious, we can see how not all scientists (with degrees or otherwise) can be patent lawyers. There would be nobody left to invent or find anything worth patenting.

The article I cited in my last post talks about how undergraduate education now yields only about 8% of students majoring in the humanities. It cites a large percentage as majoring in business, but fails to mention science and engineering. I have to assume they account for the majority, which seems to be supported by data such as these.

Parents don't check these data, either. Mine didn't; others are just misled. I had a conversation with a woman recently about how she felt her daughter should major in science rather than engineering, and get a PhD so she could have more possibilities for finding work. I had to control myself to say, as calmly as possible, that she had it all backwards and wrong.

I understand that universities budget for faculty positions and building space according to student enrollment numbers in the classes. In that sense, faculty in every department want more students to choose their discipline to major in, or at least they should, because it means their department will get more money and resources. Universities are a business, and at some schools, students are treated as consumers. It is the faculty's job to woo the students. It is the students' job to choose.

Personally, I agree that humanities are a necessary ingredient to teaching critical thinking in higher education. I think humanities classes should be required; I think science requirements are less than they should be. To educate the public on science and technology-related issues, we need to start by turning out students who at least understand the basics.

Having said that, I think we've duped far too many students into majoring in science.

Then they find they can't get a job, or can't move up, without a PhD.

Then they're duped into grad school.

Then the cycle repeats, so they do a postdoc.

Then what? Cut them loose and absolve everyone of any guilt? Tell the student "you chose to do this"?

The least we could do is collect the data and tell the truth.

Students: you'd be better off choosing an alternative that will guarantee you can find work.

In the interest of full disclosure, I don't know what the best alternative is now; I don't know what it will be 15 years from now, but I can almost certainly guarantee that it will keep changing every few years. It's no secret that people tend to run in herds. Baby names are trendy; so are majors and careers.

Some disciplines seem to have it all figured out. I've heard of some departments choosing to be exclusive, admitting fewer majors and building up their reputation as a great department by taking only the best students they can get, rather than trying to earn strength by numbers. Those people seem to have no trouble finding jobs when they get out.

I don't know if the secret is in top-down regulation of earlier specialization, having more but smaller departments, or more options for specialized majors, but it might help control and direct the pipeline. It would be a way to potentially combat the common misconception that there are plenty of jobs for everyone who majors in science.

One final thought from this particular soap-box: I still think one of the major problems with the approach to careers in science is the overly long incubation time. Part of the disconnect between input of students majoring in science, and output into an actual job, is the lag time.

I often think if I had gone to a vocational school or majored in engineering that at least I could have gotten a "real job" after just 4 years (or less) of classes.

Nobody can see 4 years into the future, whether the oil spill in the Gulf will completely kill the fishing industry, or whether in another 4 years after that, it might come back.

Even fewer people can say that in 10 years, there will be jobs for people with PhDs in X sub-speciality of biotech.

Fewer still can say that in 15 years, there will be jobs only for people who did a PhD in X and a postdoc in Y and published papers on L, M, N, O and P.

But that's how it actually is right now. Does that sound very scientific?

So spin your dice. You either have to be psychic, or very, very lucky.

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