Those years of toil toward a PhD aren't even the hard part — that's what comes next, writes Bryan Gaensler, the director of the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto, at the Conversation.
"But there's one thing that all those years of study and research has not prepared them for: the job market," he says.
There is stiff competition for just a few slots, he notes, as there are about 12 people with doctoral degrees for every faculty position. As candidates then scramble to apply for more jobs openings, the quality of their applications suffer, not, Gaensler adds, that it matters much as hiring committees only have 10 minutes to 15 minutes to spare on each candidate.
Something, he says, has got to give.
Gaensler suggests that employers need to be more specific, and provide details and context, regarding the type of applicant they are looking for, rather than going through what he calls "the scientific equivalent of speed dating." He also says that more flexible career paths, including part-time jobs, are needed, as are two-body hires and accommodations for career interruptions.
At the same time, he adds that the scientific community needs to be accepting of careers inside and outside of academia.