"A PhD student is someone who forgoes current income in order to forgo future income"
— realscientists (@realscientists) August 21, 2014
We make a lot of noise about the gender pay gap, but somehow the academic pay gap is a socially excusable injustice.
Studies have found that women tend to be intimidated by the negotiation process. Elaine’s anecdotal studies have found that academics tend to be even more intimidated. Observe a typical negotiation process for a junior faculty position:
Minimum wage, you say? And a $150 start-up package for my lab? The teaching requirement seems a bit high. Did you say the coffee in the break room is… free?? Offer accepted!
I’m kidding, of course. Unless the graduate has a first-author publication in Nature or some industry equivalent, there is no negotiation process. There probably isn’t even an offer.
The majority of new PhD graduates either do nothing or take postdocs. A postdoc is a lot like doing nothing, except you work 60 hours a week and still claim to be a student to get discount tickets at the movie theater though you’re well in your 30s.
Eventually these PhDs realize that the world doesn’t need professional scholars. So they learn to code or something, and get real jobs.
By this point, the presumption of utter uselessness has been wholly ingrained in their souls. Even in industry, salary negotiation looks much like the one above.
Women see the gender pay gap as an injustice. PhDs see the academic pay gap as validation of their low self-esteem.
Reddit recently eliminated salary negotiations in an attempt to close the gender pay gap. I hope more companies follow suit – Not just for the women, but for the former academics! Haven’t they suffered enough?
1. The Stagnating Job Market for Young Scientists –Slate