Thursday, August 23, 2007

It's not just English and/or the Humanities

Pharyngula has got a post today about the numbers of biology PhDs coming through the pipeline compared with the numbers of tenure track jobs out there, and the numbers are pretty darned dismal.

Myers jokingly asks if the young biology PhDs are all waiting for him to die.

When I was on the market, my grad cohort had joking fantasies about Legionnaire's disease somehow getting into the air conditioning/heating systems of the big MLA hotels. (It's famous for afflicting folks at a convention and attacks middle-aged and older folks harder. It's the perfect MLA horror film disease!)

At least English folks don't usually have to do endless post-docs. It sounds like biology post-docs up the opportunity cost of doing a biology PhD hugely. On the other hand, biology PhDs tie in a bit more directly with industry opportunities than English PhDs. (Unless someone knows a major industry that wants to hire a resident Shakespearean?)


  1. Isn't Legionnaire's Disease the big joke in Small World by David Lodge?

  2. Oh god - I love the MLA horror film idea - it's not the blob that gets 'em - it's Legionnaire's Disease!

  3. I dunno, we don't do endless postdocs, but we'd be more likely to do endless adjuncting. At least you get a fancier job title with postdoc. :)

  4. And better money, Sisyphus. At least comparing postdocs in Geekman's world (c. $50,000) to adjuncting in mine (often around $7000 per course, and you're lucky to have two or more courses a semester).

    As for people dying, the grad students in our dept run a weekly afternoon tea, and I wonder if the faculty would still attend if they knew how often we joked about putting out a "special professors-only" plate of arsenic-laced biscuits...

  5. $7000 a class? Good shit. Here in AR it's $1500 a class. Yes, that's per semester.