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.