Pushing for Culture Change, Ph.D.’s Explore Careers Beyond Academe

When Sydney Glassman started her Ph.D. in ecology at the University of California here, she was sure she wanted to be a professor. But many factors, she says, make her less certain of that today.

“The academic job market is intimidating,” Ms. Glassman says. “The lack of funding is horrible. That Ted Cruz and James Inhofe are in positions of power for science is very depressing. The fact that people I know who are very good at what they do but are not getting grants is also very depressing.”

So Ms. Glassman found herself this week at Beyond Academia, a conference created by Berkeley doctoral students for current and recent Ph.D.’s who want to explore careers outside the professoriate. The students cobbled together $40,000 from the university, individual departments, and other sources for the event, which they hope will help change an American university culture that they say often devalues nonacademic careers.

Winning the financial blessing of an elite institution like Berkeley for such a conference, now in its third year, is proof to some that academe is becoming more supportive of Ph.D.’s who work outside university walls. Indeed, universities are acknowledging some tough numbers: Each year they produce more and more Ph.D.’s, even as the share of tenure-track jobs shrinks. As a result, administrators are creating more career servicesfor graduate students and making greater efforts to track where their Ph.D.’s land. <Read more.>

Via Vimal Patel, The Chronicle of Higher Education.