Re: Status of Science/math (was PSYCH: Women and Math)

From: Gerhard Haak (
Date: Tue Feb 27 2001 - 02:56:47 MST

 From: Amara Graps <>
> I don't agree about the 'lower status in society' in the societies
> where I've lived. I think the words: 'different status' or 'unique
> status' might be more appropriate. I agree with your assessment
> about the money earnings, however.

Fair enough. I was using the amount of money a profession earns as a rough
proxy for status. 'Unique status' is more accurate - most people are
impressed if you say you have a PhD in non-linear optics or some such.

> Maybe a useful note: every astronomer I know is in the astronomy
> field because they love the work and not for the money (take an
> astronomer to lunch, please). Another note: the astronomers whom I
> know that have left the field because of the money lure, later
> regretted it. As a point of reference: I cut my monthly earnings by
> about 2/3 in order to go for my astrophysics PhD. I have no
> illusions of big money in the coming years either, and that
> honestly doesn't bother me.

Perhaps this is the difficulty with science/math and income - people do it
despite the money. On a whole, most scientists and mathematicians I know
are gentle, unobtrusive folk who are more concerned with their work than
their income. Friends who have gone on to do PhD's have done so completely
aware of the income rates in their respective fields. I have never, ever
heard of scientists going on strike for a pay-rise. If anything, they're
more likely to go on strike for more and better equipment!

> >As a living, physics and math just don't cut it.
> I disagree.. Supporting one.. looks OK to me. Supporting more
> than one person.. well.. could be a problem. Some high-paying
> consultant work on the side would be beneficial (!).

Hmmm, I guess it depends on what it means to not 'cut it'.

> Everyone needs to assess for themselves the "money value" compared
> to the "joy value" of one's work-life, don't you think?

Absolutely. But with some luck and good planning, you can hopefully have
both. Currently, my priority is income, as I have to support 2 people and
pay back a student loan. Once my partner gets past the first knee on the
lawyer income S-curve(!), I might start looking at doing a PhD. Maybe I can
have my cake and eat it too :)

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