Why Aspire To Science? | Chemical & Engineering News
  • Jan. 30, pages 57 and 90, and March 5, page 61: Kimberly Prather is a professor at the University of California, San Diego, not UC Davis.

    March 5, page 55: Ute Deichmann is a she not a he, as stated in the article.

Volume 90 Issue 13 | pp. 4-6 | Letters
Issue Date: March 26, 2012

Why Aspire To Science?

Department: Letters

C&EN wasted valuable space in its Feb. 20 issue (page 49). How wonderful that Science Buddies “hope to attract aspiring young female scientists.” I am one of those parents who fell for the advice to encourage my daughter in math and science. She is a 2011 summa cum laude chemistry graduate without a job. She has lowered her expectations considerably and now wonders every day if she made a stupid decision to study chemistry. So do I.

I feel it is misleading and even deceitful to nurture a budding interest in chemistry these days. There are very few jobs—and a great deal of competition for those that come along. Perhaps this space should have been used to advise “aspiring young female scientists” who are already educated how to get their careers started.

Thank goodness President Obama plans to throw more money at science education (C&EN, Feb. 20, page 7). That will fix everything!

By Barbara Flohr
Crosslake, Minn.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © American Chemical Society
Bob Buntrock (April 2, 2012 9:58 AM)
As a semi-retired chemist (actually, chemist for life) who lost three jobs in my career, I empathize with your duaghter's plight. After two lab poistions, out of necessity, I "morphed" into a rewarding career in chemical information. These experiences have casued me to mentor both high school and graduate students about the "alternative" careers available to those graduate with a degree in chemistry. Consult my chapter in the Chemical Information Wikibook: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Chemical_Information_Sources/Careers_in_Chemistry , in addition to other career resources available through the ACS. Times are indeed tough, but a love for chemistry (the Central Science) will enable one to develop a career that uses one's education and training. Good luck.
S. Maschek (May 1, 2012 2:09 PM)
I hope your daughter chose to study chemistry because she liked the subject, and not just because people told her it would be easier to find a job and make lots of money.
Steven S. (May 14, 2012 12:40 PM)
I love how every time someone posts about the low pay and high unemployment endemic to science someone comes out and accuses them of being money driven and not truely interested in the subject. There is a huge difference between demanding 6 figure salaries and expecting a modest salary with benefits.

No one majors in chemistry expecting to make high six figure salaries, but they do expect to be able to have a job with benefits, be able to have at least a minimal middle class salary, and not to default on their student loans.

It doesn't matter whether you are interested in chemistry or not if all you can expect from studying it are perma-temp jobs for $15 an hour and no benefits or just unemployment then it is not viable to consider chemistry as a viable career.

I used to have quite a passion for science but it has deteriorated my quality of life to the point that I am looking to leave the field and would definitely not encourage anyone else to pursue it anymore.

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