Money and Self-Esteem

Helen McBride helen.mcbride at
Tue Sep 16 16:21:16 EST 1997

	I must agree with you about the money situation. I, too, have always
seen science as a job. One which I enjoy very much, but still just one
part of my life. Therefore, I have never been terribly impressed with the
pay scale or the job prospects for academic science. This harkens back to
the recent discussions on post-doc salaries and excuses that are given
for the low pay. What it boils down to is the fact that science is not
valued in our society. Most people in this country don't even realize
that the US govt funds most of the research here. 
	In terms of not loving science enough, people will often say that of
people who complain about the pay. "You should love science to the
exclusion of everything else in your life and be happy about it." I'm
sorry but to me that sounds more like obsession than love. If you acted
that way in a relationship with a human being, he'd get a restraining
order against you! Really that excuse doesn't wash with me, because you
know what? The people I know in grad school who are in it for the true
love of science  and to enjoy the PhD experience are the ones who are
having the hardest time. Several dropped out, disillusioned with the
whole process. It's the practical people who can take all the crap who
make it.
	As for positive feedback, I chalk it up to the fact that PIs aren't
trained to be people managers. They are trained to do science and get
money for the lab. That's it! Nowhere along the way are they taught
anything about motivating or managing people. So it's not really their
fault when they are to our minds harsh and overly critical. I mean if
your boss got in your face and yelled at you about not working hard
enough and told you what an idiot you were in a "real" job, you'd quit
and sue the company. But in science that's routine. It sure doesn't make
it any easier to swallow, though. It's just sad that these people don't
realize that a few kind words about how we're doing will make us work ten
times harder for them! Oh well. That's my two cents worth.
Helen McBride
University of Utah 
Grad Student
Dept. of Onc. Sci.
helen.mcbride at

"Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins, which of the two has
the grander view?" Victor Hugo

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