From Nature’s Careers and jobs section this week, two points that made me depressed.
US scientists keep jobs. That’s a good thing, and of course, it doesn’t drive me down per se. I’m glad it’s working fine over there… Only about 4% of biologists are unemployed! That’s so low! It definitely seems like I’m not living at the right place. I do not have the least clue about the same French statistics, but it is probably much higher, let’s say at least three times (that would be the national average, though it is even more probably higher given the state of science job market in here)…
French recruitement. This year is nevertheless an apparent exception, at least with regard to agriculture research. Not bad at all neither (though none of the advertised profiles fit anything that I would bring for as a scientist… That’s not for me this year neither…). But have a look at the comments -a few quotes:
So is the French Government not looking to hire high quality candidates by offering them such a low salary (…) yes I realise that overall this is a standard salary for junior post-docs, but it doesn’t indicate to me a serious attitude (…).
If the salary range posted is the gross, then this truly is an insult to agricultural research (taxes and social charges are high in France). If it is the net, well, it is still an unacceptably low salary for an experienced researcher who is already beyond the post-doctoral stage of his/her career.
That’s right, researchers salaries are very low in France. When I tell other people about my income, they look often like they are suffocating. Scientists are not treated any differently than any other common profession, so you really have to love studying if you want to do this. It is also true that not a single French academic would pretend (s)he chose this job for the monney anyway, and this is probably why we’re here.
But way sadder is this: there’s kind of a schizophrenic attitude here, where getting a PhD is probably the badest move you can do if you ever have to look for a job outside academia. No one will consider you fit to work in the industry, quite the contrary*. And even worse (for me at least) is when you had the opportunity to keep doing science for a while after your PhD…
So I would quite prefer this kind of position here than staying unemployed. Because cycles of employment/unemployment in science eventually leads you to sort of dissociative identity disorder, and believe me it’s not easy to keep running different projects accumulating over the different positions while struggling to keep in the tracks… (yearly when hired, monthly when unemployed).
What’s more, there’s a law here that prevent you to work in temporary positions more than 6 years, PhD included (which last only 3 years btw). So I’m almost done here for post-docs in my own country. My only solution would be again an international post-doc… Do you have surnumerary funding anybody? Want to hire me? Thanks! :-)
* The conventional wisdom with regard to science is summed up in the following saying: “researchers that are looking for [something], we find them… But researchers that are finding, we are looking for [them]!”