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Education Science

Why Science Is a Lousy Career Choice 694

Hugh Pickens writes "President Obama had a town hall meeting at Facebook's headquarters last week and said that he wanted to encourage females and minorities to pursue STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). However, Pastabagel writes that the need for American students to study STEM is one of the tired refrains in modern American politics and that plenty of people already study science, but they don't work in science. 'MIT grads are more likely to end up in the financial industry, where quants and traders are very well compensated, than in the semiconductor industry where the spectre of outsourcing to India and Asia will hang over their heads for their entire career.' Philip Greenspun adds that science can be fun, but considered as a career, science suffers by comparison to the professions and the business world. 'The average scientist that I encounter expresses bitterness about (a) low pay, (b) not getting enough credit or references to his or her work, (c) not knowing where the next job is coming from, (d) not having enough money or job security to get married and/or have children,' writes Greenspun. 'Pursuing science as a career seems so irrational that one wonders why any young American would do it.'"
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Why Science Is a Lousy Career Choice

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  • by 19061969 ( 939279 ) on Monday April 25, 2011 @03:00PM (#35932948)
    Although I don't agree with the darkness of your picture, I can certainly understand what you mean. I speak as an ex-research fellow who saw similar things and got primarily fed up with the lack of security and lack of money. So I went into industry as a freelance 'consultant' and while job security is still lacking, the pay is way better and my ideas get treated with more respect because the people I work with are mostly interested in creating the best product. I think a bit of my soul has died since then, but I'm providing for my family and they are a darn sight more important than my career. However, my soul died a lot more in a 5* university dept, trying to hack out a career. I'd give you mod points if I had any.
  • by bware ( 148533 ) on Monday April 25, 2011 @03:05PM (#35932998) Homepage

    Tariffs played a large role in this. Honda et al. can avoid paying tariffs if some large fraction of the car is manufactured/assembled here. Otherwise there's as much as a 25% tariff. For years the Japanese could make cars cheaper than Americans, so this didn't matter, but then when prices started approaching parity, they started moving factories over here to get around it.

    The tariff on trucks was much higher, and that's why there were no full-sized Japanese trucks in the US until the laws changed around 1999. The Japanese manufacturers lobbied hard to get those changed (and the US companies lobbied hard against it - some deal was made) so Toyota/Nissan could compete in the very profitable F150 market, and traded off moving entire factories here to get it.

  • by TopSpin ( 753 ) on Monday April 25, 2011 @04:10PM (#35933914) Journal

    This is exactly what happened in the US.

    The grandparents hypothetical 'cycle' had nothing to do with the presence of foreign auto manufacturers in the US.

    During the late 70's and early 80's 'domestic content' laws and regulations were both enhanced and created in the US that assess tariffs on imported autos based on the percent of value add by foreign vs. domestic industry. As a result, multiple plants opened (and remain open) in southern US by the late 80's. By 1989 all imported autos were subject to these content requirements. Trucks and SUVs were eventually reclassified [nytimes.com] (yes, these demands were met) to fall under this regime as well.

    The Reagan administration also negotiated hard limits on Japanese imports. Annual caps on imports were voluntarily agreed to between the US and Japan. Reagan also applied heavy tariffs on imported motorcycles; he noted in his memoirs that the only remaining US motorcycle manufacturer was on its last legs at the time. Today that company is healthy and once again has domestic competition.

    The reason, the only reason, any foreign auto manufacturers pay for US labor is to avoid heavy tariffs. This paradigm was established back when the US had leaders willing to leverage the fact that importers needed the US more than the US needed the importers.

    Which president most recently granted MFN status to China and signed NAFTA?

    Look it up. Learn something. There is no need to resort to speculation and theory about why things are as they are; there is actual history one may study.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell