Thursday, April 01, 2010

Scienciae carnival post: Sustainability in science

When I think of sustainability, I think of fairness, cost, burnout and all the potential wasted.

We can't sustain science if we keep treating women like this.

To wit:

private college tuition ~$100,000 and 4 years

grad school salary ~$100,000 and 4 years

postdoc fellowships ~$100,000 and 4 years (give or take)

publications >10

number of extra papers women postdoc candidates need to be seen as equal to men ~ 3 more high impact or 20 more in lesser-known journals

job offers = zero

unemployment benefits = zero

Taxpayers' investment in my "training"?



Other Recommended reading:

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At 1:37 PM, Blogger Kea said...

My record in Theoretical Physics:
BSc(Hons) 1986-1989
research assistant job 1990-1991
graduate study (disctd) 1993-1997
PhD 2002-2007
postdoc 2009
serious publications > 10
current expectations ... cleaner

At 8:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the labs I've worked in, since grad school, postdoc and now in my job in a research institute, everyone helps out on everyone else's projects but the difference is that I am the only one who is not given due credit for my contributions (nor raises nor promotions) the way others are. This is a recurring theme in every lab I've been in. I'm tired of always getting screwed over by my colleagues and PI. Meaning, I do a ton of work for their projects and am never made a co-author. If I decline to do a ton of work on other people's proejcts my PI (or boss) orders me to, and then I'm still not made a co-author. yet if anyone (the same people whom I helped) does anything on my projects I have to make them a co-author. Now I'm always passed over for promotion and always denied raises that my peers get for far less work. In fact all my peers' salaries have risen over the years, but mine has stayed the same. Whenever I ask for a raise and present reasons for it, I'm given all kinds of excuses - "this year" we don't have the budget, or my job classification is somehow different from others' which makes me on a different pay scale (which is not true, I checked)...oh did I mention I'm the only woman in my department and work group...I feel constantly angry.

At 7:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sympathize with your situation and being a postdoc myself, I might be in a very similar position soon.

But seriously...get off the sexism thing. Here is my personal anecdote on which gender "has it easy".

Two people: M(me) and a female grad student in my dept...we'll call F.

1) We had the SAME pair of advisors.

2) She was graduating in 5 yrs and I in 4. She had tried to graduate the last year....but her advisor had turned her down because her results were deemed as too weak.

3) One of these two advisors was a woman and one a man. In fact, it was the woman advisor who had been even more severe on her (at least that is what F told me)

4) I had 5 publications, she 1.

5) Postdoc job search result:

She : top 5 univ

Me: say 15-20 ranked.

Ya...I am sure women are being kept out by sexism.

At 7:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh...and please note that if women are disproportionately leaving science for lack of satisfaction with pay and career progress, that is NOT sexist. If men are more willing to work hard for little pay to succeed in science, how is it their fault? The system should be set up to eliminate slackers, not to "level the field" by negating the success someone might achieve by working harder than someone else.

In other words, if my female colleague is not willing to work as hard as I am, I believe I am fully entitled to greater career rewards than her. I am not responsible for her choice to be lazy.

At 1:35 PM, Blogger Kea said...

Pukable Anon,
You do realise that all these comments are on the public record, yeah? Go read the research on Women and Science ... and then come back and say that again ... go on, you know you want to ...

At 2:57 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

'What we need to make clear is that good practice and promoting equality isn't a gift for women - it isn't charity. We invest in training these women scientists, and they wouldn't be in postgraduate programmes unless they were very good. We need to reap the benefits of their training - it's critical for the success of science.'

Victoria Gill

At 8:00 PM, Anonymous Lou Dobbs said...

Not to be a nitpicker or anything, but I didn't see the word 'sexism' mentioned anywhere in this post. It's simply a statement of the current state of play.

Anon@7:45: surely if you think your attitude forward you can see how a tournament model eventually works to the detriment of all postdocs. Also, the greater success of your female colleague relative to yourself (congratulations to the two of you for obtaining a job, by the way; in five years you'll be grateful for even that) surely indicates to you that there is no 'system' at play here that 'rewards' hard work, merely a great deal of luck and possibly personal connections.

Perhaps you could learn a great deal from your female colleague about how to network and form strong connections that will benefit your career prospects, rather than decrying her success as the product of quota-filling.

YFS: sorry long time no comment; glad you're still posting!

At 8:33 AM, Blogger Doctor Pion said...

You don't say if the number given for undergrad tuition was a fellowship or not, but if you are currently without student loan debt and the taxpayers put 300 k$ into your education, you are better off than many.

I also don't recall what general field you are in. I am writing from the perspective of physics, where I have written somewhat on the general nature of the academic job market in that area (see footnote for link). IMHO, the situation in the biomedical area is much worse than it is in physics.

The second Anonymous is clueless. You can be better off in the top 20 than the top 5 if you get more publications done and your work ends up in a soon-to-be-hot area. You will also be taken more seriously in academia and have fewer "service" demands placed on your time if both you and your fellow student each land similar "dream" R1 jobs. But don't assume that she is your competition. If your judgment is accurate (and it might not be), she will not make it because women ARE held to a higher standard.

But I have to wonder if anyone reading this thread really knows that the odds of getting a t-t job at an R1 is about 1 in 20, with 1/3 of the hires coming from overseas? [An alumni mag I get featured new hires in physics, half of whom (a woman in particular) were from overseas.] Since about 1/3 of physics PhDs end up in academia, that means most of the jobs are elsewhere, usually with a teaching focus.

PS - If you have to work harder to accomplish the same outcomes as someone else, you are not the best candidate for the job. You're the worst one.

The data analysis referred to above can be found here

At 11:27 AM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

Doctor Pion,

It's somewhere between 1:200 and 1:800 in biomedical sciences, depending on your field.

I'm quoting directly from the searches I know about, how many applications they got vs. openings they filled.

At 12:24 PM, Blogger PUI prof said...

I misread your post, and commented from the wrong impression: could you not post it or delete it. It makes no sense. :) apologies.

Love your blog.

At 3:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am the person who posted the comment about my former female grad student colleague who rode the quota into a much better univ than I did.

Both of us graduated last spring. It is no surprise that she hasn't added a single publication in the last 365 days.

what I find interesting is that everyone else is sooo damn sure that her better placement is a result of anything BUT quota. Someone suggests she might have better networking. Ya.. it could be anything... except for the fact that every job ad I saw explicitly said that as a man, my application would be less aceeptable to them.

And to the person who told me I would be grateful in 5 years to even have a job, let me congratulate you on having whatever job you have. I am fully confident that there is a place in science for hard working and capable people despite all the quotas in the world. I am 100% certain I will have a tenure track offer at an R1 in less than 365 days. And despite whatever bitterness I feel now, I know that at some point, this former female colleague will be stopped and asked to prove her worth rather than her gender.

Science has withstood the Catholic Church and its death threats. Science is not gonna go down to a bunch of feminists. You have taken the Arts and the Humanities but science is an altogether different animal.

At 10:42 AM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

Dear Readers, while I appreciate your efforts to educate Anonymous, above, I have to remind you: DON'T FEED THE TROLLS.

They are here for observational purposes only.

At 2:47 PM, Blogger Unbalanced Reaction said...

I know I shouldn't feed 'em, but can I at least throw a *lit* bit of kibble at Anon 3:57?

At 6:14 PM, Anonymous Thinkerbell said...

"except for the fact that every job ad I saw explicitly said that as a man, my application would be less aceeptable to them"

Dear Anonymous,
I'm not trying to educate you since that would be a waste of my time. However, the above statement made by you clearly states why I wish they would just stop the whole affirmative action business ASAP. I think I should be good enough to get a job without it, as I believe most women who get a job inspite of it are. But it makes me cringe every time I here a White Dude use it as an excuse for why Any Woman would be in a place that he wish he were in.

At 12:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am fully confident that there is a place in science for hard working and capable people despite all the quotas in the world. I am 100% certain I will have a tenure track offer at an R1 in less than 365 days.

Sorry, luv, you are only just out of grad school and your comments show it. If you think this injustice re your female colleague is outrageous and that there is a place in science for hardworking and capable people, you really have no idea how the world of academia truly works.

Any grad student who is hardworking and capable will get a postdoc job, that much is true. (heck you only need to have a PhD and a pulse to get some postdoc position somewhere and somehow...after all which PI doesn't want a highly skilled, highly trained lab tech that they can pay for less than a real professional lab tech by calling it "postdoctoral training"?)...But that is where the correlation between success and hardwork/capability ends. During and beyond the postdoc, success in science has little to do with hardwork and capability in science, it has more to do with people-skills and political game playing skills. Who you know, and who likes you enough. Not trying to be harsh or discouraging, just realistic.

At 5:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my subject you need far more than a PhD and a pulse to get a job. In fact, more than 50% of the people who graduated with me (and overall...if you count all univs, not more than 33% get a postdoc in my subject) didn´t find a postdoc. I am not in the lab sciences. I don´t report to a PI as such.

At 12:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have something to ask the feminists.

What do they think about those female PIs that are married to bigshot PIs ? I have seen many, many times where a professor was signed up be faculty only on the condition that his wife is given a professorship as well. I have also seen politics at Harvard, where a big shot professor, upon learning that his wife would not get tenure, threatened to move to another university. Then the wifey got tenure, and he stayed.

Is that merit? I have seen this happen 10+ times already.


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