Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Scientific Career Prospects: Will We Never Learn?

The American Chemical Society recently sponsored a webinar on ' The Doctoral Glut Dilemma', providing an overview of the current dismal prospects for PhD employment. One of the interesting things about this whole issue is the divergence between spokesmen from government and industry who constantly deplore the 'shortage' of talented scientists and technologists, and the experience of recent PhDs who can't find jobs no matter how hard they try. Then of course there are the economists who say that unemployment among PhDs is slightly less then for everybody else so things are not so bad. This is very consoling after you have spent 5 years toiling as a poorly paid graduate student!

This problem is not new. Debates about overproduction of PhDs have been going on since the 1980's, but we never seem to learn.

The answer of course is to engage in academic birth control. The perverse incentives that lead university faculty members to recruit more and more graduate students need to be reversed. The emphasis should be on quality not quantity.

There is much more on this issue in previous posts on the Science for the Future website.

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