Friday, March 17, 2006

On academic careers in science in the US

Adjusted for IQ, quantitative skills, and working hours, jobs in science are the lowest paid in the United States by Philip Greenspun

"Having been both a student and teacher at MIT, my personal explanation for men going into science is the following:

1. young men strive to achieve high status among their peer group
2. men tend to lack perspective and are unable to step back and ask the question "is this peer group worth impressing?"

Consider Albert Q. Mathnerd, a math undergrad at MIT ("Course 18" we call it). He works hard and beats his chest to demonstrate that he is the best math nerd at MIT. This is important to Albert because most of his friends are math majors and the rest of his friends are in wimpier departments, impressed that Albert has even taken on such demanding classes. Albert never reflects on the fact that the guy who was the best math undergrad at MIT 20 years ago is now an entry-level public school teacher in Nebraska, having failed to get tenure at a 2nd tier university. When Albert goes to graduate school to get his PhD, his choice will have the same logical foundation as John Hinckley's attempt to impress Jodie Foster by shooting Ronald Reagan.

It is the guys with the poorest social skills who are least likely to talk to adults and find out what the salary and working conditions are like in different occupations. It is mostly guys with rather poor social skills whom one meets in the university science halls."

Hilariously well written. However, one thing I'm beginning to realize is that cribbing about jobs or money is the favorite past-time for most - its a trait found even amongst the most highly paid (relative to what I wonder:p) and those with 'dream' jobs. There is, it seems, no limit to human desires. This article could as well have been written by a person from any industry.
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