Money and self-esteem

Judy Stone Judy at amida.zoo.duke.edu
Thu Sep 18 08:32:21 EST 1997


> Sabine wrote:
> 
(snip)

> >But then, I wonder - even if one does it for the "love of science" -
> >if people do not seem to have high enough esteem for your work to pay you
> >a decent salary (or to pay you at all) - is this work really worth it?


> >So, the question I would like to put up here is what you feel about it -
> >do you think your work is really so valuable to yourself (it it were valuable
> >for society, society should pay for it) to put up with the financial
situation
> >as it is? Because if it is really valuable for society or your employer
> >(advisor,
> >PI, whatever), doesn't the small amount of money paid for it show that
> >"society"
> >or your boss does not esteem your work high enough, and you should go
> >somewhere
> >where this is valued?
> >

I have often thought that the secret to success in academic science is
(besides all those things you have:  brains, creativity, good work habits)
the ability to hang on -- to keep doing research even when you don't have
any financial support.  Yes, there are people who are fully funded all the
way through and land that great faculty job on the first round of
interviews.  But there are lots more people who don't, and many of them
eventually succeed.  If they have some source of outside money and/or no
kids, they can generally weather the hard times and emerge just fine.  But
if they have more pressing financial concerns, they often need to take
whatever job they can get (like teaching at a commmunity college, working
in industry, etc.).

But I'm not sure this relates to how much they love science.  I think it's
just a matter of the other demands in their life, or as Sabine says, how
much crap they are willing to tolerate.  For me, the discomfort of being
poor is small compared to the discomfort of working in a job where I would
sacrifice so much -- the ability to choose what I think about, what I do,
and how I do it.  On the other hand, I've known lots of people who have
"dropped out", and they all seem happy with their decision.

This talk about "society" valuing science makes me uncomfortable.  What I
do does not directly benefit humans, and I feel blessed to be able to do
it at all.  I think we, as academic researchers, are responsible for
demonstrating how we benefit society.  Is my salary really more valuable
than food supplements for poor children, medicare, or Amtrack?


Only my second time posting to a newsgroup.  Hope my technique/etiquette is ok.

Judy



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