Men who are agreeable don't make as much money as disagreeable men do, and women make less, whether or not they are agreeable, reports LiveScience. According to the University of Notre Dame's Timothy Judge, that wage gap between disagreeable and agreeable men is about 18 percent while it is 5 percent between disagreeable and agreeable women. Judge's study is to be published this fall in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. "Women who appear to be tough or disagreeable get a special kind of scorn directed toward them," Judge says. "That sort of neutralizes the benefit that they might otherwise receive." Judge also studied why considered disagreeable men have a wage advantage, and found that they were viewed as strong leaders.
It took being temporarily out of work to convince Jeff Buzby to take a leap of faith and break into another area of interest to him — biotech consulting. [More.]
A recent Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce report says that "while occupation can sometimes trump education, degree level still matters most." However, it also notes that "in a surprising number of cases, people with less educational attainment earn more than those with more education." Moreover, the Georgetown report adds that "race/ethnicity and gender are wild cards that can determine [pay], more than education or occupation." It's one chart, on page 10 of the report, that has bloggers buzzing: Put simply, by PZ Myers at Pharyngula, the chart shows that "a Y chromosome is the same as a PhD." Indeed, according to the report, "women have to have a PhD to make as much as men with a BA." Blogger Kay Steiger calls this "the most depressing pay gap statistic."
The University of Birmingham's Mark Pallen says that, after frequently being asked to, he's tired of talking thesis. And so, over at his Pathogens: Genes and Genomes blog this week, Pallen puts forth some no-frills advice on how to write an acceptable PhD thesis. As a whole, Pallen says a PhD thesis should adhere to all stylistic rules — regarding "margin sizes, order of front material, and length of abstract," et cetera, he says — and should not be oppressively lengthy or alarmingly brief. ("Suspicions will be aroused if the thesis is too short — [fewer than] 200 pages — or too long — [more than] 300 pages," Pallen says.) He adds that "for the thesis as a whole and for each chapter, there should be a clear separation between the kind of material that belongs in the introduction, in the methods section, in the results section and in the discussion," and he discusses what content goes in those sections in detail. As for the thesis defense, a PhD candidate must "demonstrate knowledge and understanding of all the work that has been done, and the background to it," as well as on all relevant basic concepts in his or her field, Pallen says. He adds that since judgment committee's word is generally final and not able to be appealed, it's best to "get it right before you submit."
This week, Rice University's Elaine Howard Ecklund and Southern Methodist University's Anne Lincoln report in PLoS One that "having fewer children than wished as a result of the science career affects the life satisfaction of science faculty and indirectly affects career satisfaction." This, the authors add, is "not just a woman's problem." Indeed, Ecklund and Lincoln say that the negative effect on life satisfaction "of having fewer children than desired is more pronounced for male than female faculty, with life satisfaction strongly related to career satisfaction." The researchers also show that grad students and postdocs who have had fewer children than they desired "are more likely to … exit science entirely," irrespective of gender. "… It is concerning," the authors write, "that a significant proportion of men and women … are considering leaving science" because of the impacts scientific careers can have on family life. The authors say their work could inform future mentoring services and family leave policies at research institutions.
This week, Bitesize Bio's Marisa Fernández-Cachón outlines the advantages and disadvantages of earning a PhD or doing a postdoc abroad. Having made the move herself — she earned her undergraduate degree and began her graduate training in Barcelona before moving to Germany's Albert-Ludwigs University Freiburg, where she is now a PhD candidate — Fernández-Cachón speaks of the transition from experience.
On the plus side, Fernández-Cachón says, training in a foreign country is a great opportunity to learn a new culture and, potentially, a new language. In addition, doing science abroad may afford a PhD or postdoc "better working [or] funding conditions than in your home country." Further, "you'll gain a lot of transferrable skills" and "will meet many new people and increase your network," she adds.
However, Fernández-Cachón says, adjusting to life in a new country can, at times, be tough. It's possible, she says, that "you will feel alone and miss your roots," particularly in the event of having to learn, and strictly use, a new language. Overall, "earning a PhD [or] doing a postdoc is usually hard, and it is even harder in another country," Fernández-Cachón says, though she adds: "Personally, I don’t regret it."
A new report out of the department's Economics and Statistics Administration presents data on women's attainment of STEM degrees as well as on their salary and employment in STEM fields. [More.]
For its August issue, Marie Claire spoke with MIT Professor Hazel Sive about the sexism among science and engineering faculty that scarred the school's past, some of the stereotypes female scientists face, as well as her personal advice for women who would like to pursue academic research careers. (The article appears on page 87 of the magazine; we will include a link when the article is live on the Web site.) Sive tells Marie Claire that when she arrived at MIT 29 years ago, female faculty were not only paid less, they were given less lab space. "A male faculty member would have 2,000 square feet, while a female faculty member would get 400 square feet," she says. Though MIT has changed many of its policies, Sive says that there's still "a perception now that the hiring process is unfair. People think: 'Oh, she was hired because we need women.' And it's not just men that feel that way." Plus, she adds, a recent MIT report shows that women working in science still face unconscious biases during the hiring process. "We'll get letters of recommendation for women that talk about how organized they are in the lab, which sounds neutral and nice, but actually detracts from the candidate," Sive says.
Later, Marie Claire asks Sive whether the stereotype that female scientists are "Teva-wearing eggheads," affects how women approach their looks in the lab. Sive says that to be taken seriously, women feel as though they "can't come off as soft, which is synonymous with compliant. … The day before I went for my first interview, I made a pact with myself to stop wearing makeup." It was only years later Sive allowed herself to again use cosmetics, she adds.
For women seeking academic careers in science, Sive suggests they plan their personal lives as carefully as their professional ones. It's best, she says, to find a partner "who will not expect you to give up your career for theirs" and who is willing to share family responsibilities, like child care. "Too often we see women take lesser positions than their male partners," Sive says, adding: "It's not usually the other way around."
In a perspective piece appearing in this month's Molecular Biology of the Cell, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences' Marion Zatz discusses the rewards and challenges of her 27-year career as a program officer. "In the face of record deficits and shrinking National Institutes of Health budgets, one might wonder why a sane person would choose a career in government service," Zatz says. But, as budgets shrink, the already tough funding decisions will become tougher — which is why the "job of a PO will become more important than ever in helping to sustain the enthusiasm and progress of the research and training enterprise," she adds. In her paper, Zatz examines the PO's role in federal funding decisions and in the process of peer review — including "providing advice to applicants and grantees, making funding recommendations, overseeing grantees' progress, facilitating scientific opportunities in specific areas of program responsibility and shaping … policy," she says, adding that "one of the most gratifying activities … is identifying an emerging area of science and fostering its development." Generally speaking, Zatz considers herself "a social worker for scientists." She adds that, "like many of my colleagues at the NIH, I came to this position following a career as an independent research scientist." Among other things, Zatz says prospective POs must have excellent organizational skills, a knack for written and verbal communication, and a collaborative spirit. In the end, though, "I believe the most important qualification for the job is a love and appreciation of good science," she says.
The Palo Alto, Calif.-based sequence storage and analysis firm DNAnexus is using an unusual employee referral program to recruit new software engineers. Through August 31, the company is soliciting referrals for candidates to build up its engineering team. "If you refer us a software engineer and we hire them, you'll get $20,000 and your full genome sequenced," DNAnexus says, adding that "if multiple people refer the same person, only the first referral counts." Of course, there are some stipulations. The company requires employees recruited as a result of winning referrals remain employed there for three months, after which time the bonus is payable, it says. Among other things, DNAnexus adds that the genome sequencing portion is optional. "We will not store or process your data unless you choose to," it says. Full details of DNAnexus' recruitment promotion appear here.
As part of its August bulletin, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute asks: "Is there room for teaching and research in a postdoc experience?" According to HHMI's Andrea Widener, "few postdocs are getting teaching experience now," though those who desire such training can find an increasing number of opportunities. These, she says, "range from formal teaching postdocs to programs that expose postdocs to teaching while they work in a traditional research position." However, Widener adds, learning to teach while in the midst of a research-centric postdoc has its challenges. "Many faculty discourage graduate students or postdocs from going after teaching experiences because they fear that time away from the lab will mean fewer publications — and more difficulty getting a job," she says. Yale Univeristy's Jo Handelsman — who is also an HHMI professor — tells Widener that for "people [who] want to go into academic positions, a pure teaching postdoc can be fatal." Plus, Handelsman adds, even those institutions that tend to be less research-intensive still value faculty candidates who have experience in strong research programs. Indeed, Widener spoke with two researchers who both "enjoyed formal teaching postdocs," but later ended up taking on a "second postdoc to get the research experience they'd need to get a good faculty position."
Increasingly, graduate students "are leaning heavily on loans and grants to pay for their education," The Chronicle of Higher Education's Ryan Brown says, discussing a new report released by the US Department of Education this week. Drawing upon data culled from the 2007-2008 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, the agency shows that "across all types of degrees and institutions … most students received some type of financial aid," Brown says, adding that "those in professional programs at private, nonprofit institutions received the highest aid, on average, at $36,200 annually." The DOE also found that those enrolled in PhD programs "were the least likely group of graduate students to be dependent on loans, averaging 14 percent of their aid in loans, compared with 80 percent of law students and 82 percent of medical and other health-sciences students," Brown says.
The agency reissued an announcement for its IRCADA program. [More.]