I Love My Job

I’m very happy to be an academic scientist. And I’m not alone:

a study presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association finds that academic scientists — in the natural and social sciences — are more satisfied than are their counterparts outside of higher education. The original hypothesis of the paper was that there might be a convergence of satisfaction levels, especially since satisfaction was defined in ways that stress traditional academic values, not more entrepreneurial ones. The scientists were asked about satisfaction with their independence and responsibility and the social contributions of their work — the sorts of factors that many fear are being lost as academic science at many universities is increasingly connected to the business world. (Although they were asked many other questions about their jobs, the satisfaction questions were defined in this way only.)

The authors — Roberta Spalter-Roth of the sociology association and Grant Blank of Applied Social Research Associates — found instead that academic scientists (except psychologists) remain more satisfied than those outside academe.

The article goes on to present a bunch of odd demographic breakdowns that mostly indicate that statistical significance is a funny thing, but the general trend makes a lot of sense. After all, there’s a lot to like about being an academic scientist– the job security, the rewarding work, the freedom to do what you love.

The job offers a lot of flexibility, too. For example, I was able to arrange it so that I’m not teaching any classes this fall term, leaving me free to stay home and help take care of FutureBaby.

Speaking of which, if anybody needs me, I’ll be at the hospital.


  1. #1 cisko
    August 6, 2008


    Go Kate! Go Chad!

    Hope everything goes well and things come out all right.

    Oh and PHOTOS PLZ!

  2. #2 Becca
    August 6, 2008

    Ya know, it might sound kind of dumb, but I really appreciate hearing somebody be simply happy with their job.

    In the land of research-focused R01s in an era of federal cuts and tremendous competition, I’m not too sure the tenured but 100% soft-money faculty I’m surrounded by really feel the “job security”. Most of them are still pleased with their career choices, I think. But it’s nice to hear someone in a slightly different environment, who’s still doing what they love and doesn’t seem quite so stressed (well, aside from the complicated good/bad stress that Future Baby seems to inspire- that is another matter entirely).

  3. #3 Kenneth Cavness
    August 6, 2008


    I hope everything goes well and it’s an easy labor! Give Kate my good wishes please.

  4. #4 Mike
    August 6, 2008

    Woot! Good luck to you, Kate and FutureBaby!

  5. #5 Zeynep Dilli
    August 6, 2008

    I have to agree with Becca about the different stress levels within the “no grants==tinybitofmoney==no good research==no promotion” group.

    But on to the more important things—best of luck at the hospital; hope everything goes smoothly and you come home all three happy and healthy.

  6. #6 catswym
    August 6, 2008

    was this for tenured academics?

    in any case, it would seem that there would be some self-selection in this–it is so tough to get into and make it in academia that only folks who REALLY want to be there, are there. on the other hand, everyone else goes to every place else and maybe you’re happy and maybe you aren’t.

  7. #7 Doug Natelson
    August 6, 2008

    Yes, it’s a nice (professional) life if you can keep all the balls in the air, so to speak. Good luck at the hospital! You’re gonna love the whole baby experience :-)

  8. #8 The MadPanda
    August 7, 2008

    (temporarily delurking…)

    Best wishes to you, your lovely wife, and Futurebaby! Kind thoughts for Emmy, as well, in return for all those fun Physics With Emmy threads.

    The MadPanda, FCD


  9. #9 Jonathan Vos Post
    August 8, 2008

    Arthur Collins: “I love, I love, I love my wife, but oh you kid” song (1909).

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