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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Please hire. Desperate.

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Back in grad school, we joked that PhD was an abbreviation for the sentiment expressed in the above title, but the joke was on lots of us. Around that time, articles like this one in Nature were all over the place. They covered folks with terminal degrees who took non-traditional career paths, for various reasons related to the fact that too many had trained for too few positions. This piece covers the surprising (to some) fact that often, it's not the low achievers who are crowded out, but the better prospects who decide to leave. Here is an excerpt from a section called, "From chemist to capitalist":

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[Soroosh] Shambayati is among the hundreds of thousands of scientists who train in academia but then leave to follow a different career. According to the latest survey of doctorate recipients conducted by the US National Science Foundation, nearly one-fifth of employed people with science and engineering PhDs were no longer working in science in 2010. This is partly due to a lack of room at the top. In the United States, the number of PhDs entering the workforce has skyrocketed but the number of stable academic jobs has not. In 1973, nearly 90% of US PhDs working in academia held full-time faculty positions, compared with about 75% in 2010. [bold added]
It is interesting to contemplate several things in addition to the values each of the three subjects considered in making their decisions. Many cite their science training as factors in their success, but what if each had started his or her ultimate career earlier, either training in it or, in the case of the stay-at-home dad, being able to move on earlier? And on top of that, there is the fact that each studies science either at the wrong time or instead of something else. Much of the PhD glut is due to central "planning" in the form of government funding of training and research in the sciences. How many people have wasted time or effort due to such encouragement? This isn't just an insult added to the injury caused by taking the funds by force in the first place.

-- CAV

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