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Bart Janssen bjanssen at ag.arizona.edu
Wed Aug 13 20:32:38 EST 1997

Kristie Allen wrote:

> This is a great thread.  I'm in the middle of a PhD right now, and am
> looking forward to a postdoc.  It is basically a question of supply
> and
> demand.  There are tons of PhDs, few positions to put them into so
> the
> degree is only worth its rarity.  And, in this case the rarity is
> nonexistant.
> Unfortunately we are in a similar position to waitresses and cashiers.
> There are more than enough of us to fill the need.

Hi Kristie

Boy this really has got me going :).

Two points:  supply and demand is a really silly way of deciding who
gets paid what, it may be real but its still silly, and we are
scientists and therefore meant to be smarter than that.  You don't see
lawyers getting paid what we do, and there are certainly more than
enough lawyers.

Which leads to the second point:  There are not more scientists than we
(in the global sense of the word we) need!  There is however, less
funding for science and scientists than we need.  I know this is in
practice this is the same thing but to the general public when you say
there are too many PhDs the public thinks that there isn't enough
science for them to do, and that is wrong.  if on the other hand you say
there is not enough funding to pay for the science that we need to get
done then the public might just get the idea.

Otherwise Kristie is right we are in a lousy bargaining position, but
that's still no reason to argue in favour of paying lousy wages to

One other point that I don't think has been raised.  Many people seem to
assume that a post-doc is merely a stepping stone on a career path that
naturally leads to a higher paid job.  That isn't true in the current
climate.  Most universities are not creating new positions and many very
good scientists simply have no other choice than to remain a post-doc.


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