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.