Author Topic: Tenure track professor turns to plasma donation because $52k/yr isn't enough?  (Read 6529 times)

a1pharm

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https://longreads.com/2017/02/09/a-shot-in-the-arm/https://longreads.com/2017/02/09/a-shot-in-the-arm/

The 214 mile round trip drive and a total of 8 hours to get $50 is why we need more math classes made mandatory for humanities students.

/rant

dandarc

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Yeah - selling plasma, not a bad move.  Driving 100 miles each way to do so is insanity.

Vanguards and Lentils

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Quote
I decided to get a Ph.D. in American Studies from Saint Louis University, even though I was not offered funding.

And there you go.

At my university, there is a contingent of people leading a unionization effort for us grad students. They are almost entirely humanities students (individual departments get to decide how much to pay their students and the STEM students make comfortable amounts). I always wonder if they were forced to sign the contract to be a PhD student here. Oh wait, no, we're in America and that literally never happens anywhere.

I will admit though, like the author, they tend to be excellent and persuasive writers. It's as if their choice of field and career were preparing them for the ultimate task of complaining.

CheapScholar

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This guy is a sad and pathetic joke.  I work at the university he throws under the bus.  Sorry, but visiting post-doc professorships virtually never lead to full time tenure track job offers.  Everyone knows this going into it!  Also, while $44,000 is not a lot of money, it actually is enough to get by in our university town.  Of course, most people don't borrow so recklessly to obtain PhDs, at least our visiting faculty typically don't.

LadyMuMu

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Good writer. Lots to see deserving of face punches if he were here asking for help:

1- no kids? Get a roommate or two. Lots of single profs do this. Better yet, move into someone else's garage apartment.
2- do you really need a car (honest question) as most college towns have transit of some sort Oh, look. $45 for a monthly pass. That's a lot better than $285 car payment (!) gas and insurance
3- stop making excuses for not having better side hustles than giving plasma. Start by returning your returnables for goodness sake. That's just like throwing away money. And buy fewer things that have returnables (beer, wine, soda, etc.)
4- stop buying retail furniture like a couch and bed. Use Craigs List
5- What the heck ARE you doing with your summers.

I would love it if this guy visited this site. He could turn this whole thing around in 5 years or less. Instead he's killing himself with stress and pity.

The Guru

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"Given my financial constraints, how was it even possible for me to commute back and forth to Lewiston? Dont I use all my payout on gas? Yes and no. One thing you learn when you have no money is how to game the system. For example, I learned that even when credit cards only have a dollar or two of remaining credit available, you can pump a full tank of gas on them. Yes, I know this is irresponsible, and that Im getting slammed with overage fees and penalties, but when youre without money you narrow your vision to now and worry about those issues next month when the bill comes. So I will pump $35 worth of gas on two dollars of credit; drive to Lewiston and back twice (428 miles) and make $100."

.The "yes" part of the above question is obvious. Not just gas. Wear and tear on his car. Tax on his windfall. Risk of contracting God-knows-what, based on his description of the clinic. Opportunity cost of the wasted day. What's questionable is how it's NOT a net loss. it's not like he actually gets $35 worth of gas for 2 bucks.

Reminds me of a line from one of the Godfather movies: " D'you go to college to get STUPID?"

Cpa Cat

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I was curious what one does with an American Studies degree other than get more American Studies degrees and then teach American Studies to unsuspecting students in a kind of sick twisted cycle of visiting your mistakes unto others.

I found this:
Quote
WHERE ARE GEORGETOWN AMERICAN STUDIES MAJORS NOW?

Investment banking analyst
Case assistant, litigation
Elementary school teacher
Futures trader
Freelance research assistant
Account coordinator
Government, staff assistant
Consultant
Paralegal
Public relations
Sales

Oh my god. Really?

Investment banking analyst - Pretty sure there's another degree for that one other than American Studies. It's quaint that they got an American Studies degree alongside their Finance degree, but you couldn't really say that American Studies led them there.
Case assistant, litigation - This is a legal assistant, I think? Do you suppose you have to compete with unemployed lawyers for this sub-$40,000 a year job?
Elementary school teacher - So I'm guessing they also went and got a degree in Education.
Futures trader - Yeah.
Freelance research assistant - Freelance.
Account coordinator - Another sub-$40,000 job that is better suited to Marketing degrees.
Government, staff assistant - I suppose working in government as a "staff assistant" might be a worthwhile use of this degree?
Consultant - hahahaha. Me too.
Paralegal - You don't need a BA for this, but you probably do need to go to community college for Paralegal training.
Public relations - Is this a profession that requires a degree? I guess American Studies could fit the bill.
Sales - lol

So in that list we have two/three jobs that might actually have been the result of this degree. None of them paying well, then a host of jobs that likely required another degree or certification. And at least three that made me laugh out loud.

Sloeginfizz

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You can get an associates in paralegal studies or if you already have a BA, like I did, they offer a certificate in paralegal studies. Or you can just find a law firm who will hire you, because you aren't actually required to have a degree to do work as a legal assistant. That said, the place I work now. (boutique IP law firm) didn't want to talk to you unless you have both a BA and a paralegal certificate. But the place I worked before (foreclosure law) only required a HS diploma and some office experience. The money is definitely better in places where they want you to have a BA.

moof

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I feel like a chump.  I've been giving my blood away gratis, even giving away the hour+ it takes to go through the process.  Where's my $50?!

It is an awful mystery that Epi Pens have exploded in price, while I am expected to just hand overmy vital fluids gratis.  I am sure blood at a mere $200-250 a pint is next.  Where is my cut?  I got guilt-mail about shortages all the time (had to unsubscribe after the Red Cross got too pushy), but never a cash offer.  Heck it has been many YEARS since I got a t-shirt or even pint of Ben and Jerry's (pint for a pint deal, get it?) for my troubles.  What the hell?  How did this guy find a way to get $$$ for his hassles?

End pretend rant.

Aunt Petunia

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Quote

At my university, there is a contingent of people leading a unionization effort for us grad students. They are almost entirely humanities students (individual departments get to decide how much to pay their students and the STEM students make comfortable amounts). I always wonder if they were forced to sign the contract to be a PhD student here. Oh wait, no, we're in America and that literally never happens anywhere.





They may have a point: stem disciplines make more because of institutional sexism
I did a paper once for grad school that ranked professor salaries by subject.  It showed that those in traditionally male disciplines (engineering, physics) were at the top and traditionally female disciplines (education, social work) were at the bottom .

boridi

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STEM professors make more than American Studies professors because they are more useful.

Aunt Petunia

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Early childhood education professors make less than American Studies professors. Are they less useful?

Vanguards and Lentils

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I did a paper once for grad school that ranked professor salaries by subject.  It showed that those in traditionally male disciplines (engineering, physics) were at the top and traditionally female disciplines (education, social work) were at the bottom .

Did your paper just assume correlation implies causation? Maybe men have traditionally been drawn to fields which pay higher, because they were the primary breadwinners, while women have had the liberty to choose fields solely for their interest.

I suppose you also think women get paid $.77 for every $1 that men get paid.

STEM professors make more than American Studies professors because they are more useful.

I would say "useful" here is defined by industry and the government. If industry needs more engineering PhDs, salaries will rise. If the government deems Arts research not useful, then NEA gets defunded and salaries will decrease.

Spork

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I feel like a chump.  I've been giving my blood away gratis, even giving away the hour+ it takes to go through the process.  Where's my $50?!

It is an awful mystery that Epi Pens have exploded in price, while I am expected to just hand overmy vital fluids gratis.  I am sure blood at a mere $200-250 a pint is next.  Where is my cut?  I got guilt-mail about shortages all the time (had to unsubscribe after the Red Cross got too pushy), but never a cash offer.  Heck it has been many YEARS since I got a t-shirt or even pint of Ben and Jerry's (pint for a pint deal, get it?) for my troubles.  What the hell?  How did this guy find a way to get $$$ for his hassles?

End pretend rant.

Regulations make it difficult to pay people for blood these days.  If it is going to be transfused... I am pretty sure it has to be a volunteer, non-paid donor.*  Plasma... that's a whole 'nother ball park.  Plasma is used for a crapton of stuff.  It's used to make reagents and a variety of medical use "stuff".  In other words, it's an ingredient in lots of high dollar medical products.  In the old days** it used to also be used a lot by the makeup industry -- extracting proteins and such to manufacture make-up.  I have no  idea if this is still the case.


*I'm not 100% on this... but pretty sure.  It's viewed like "Hey, can I buy your kidney?"
**I worked as a flunkie in a blood bank in the late 70s/early 80s.  We did freeze some amount of donor plasma for transfusion but a HUGE majority of it was packed up in boxes, stored haphazardly at room temperature and sold in bulk to the highest bidder.  My understanding is this was often the cosmetics industry, who didn't care that it wasn't temperature controlled and wasn't injectable.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2017, 10:35:06 AM by Spork »

Aunt Petunia

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Did your paper just assume correlation implies causation? Maybe men have traditionally been drawn to fields which pay higher, because they were the primary breadwinners, while women have had the liberty to choose fields solely for their interest.

I suppose you also think women get paid $.77 for every $1 that men get paid.

.

Correlation is not causation, but my main point was that society does not place as much value on traditionally female disciplines as traditionally male disciplines.

I think that rather than choosing fields based on interest, women are more likely to choose fields with good job security and stability. Also professor salaries don't necessarily correlate with industry salaries for the same discipline.

a1pharm

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They may have a point: stem disciplines make more because of institutional sexism
I did a paper once for grad school that ranked professor salaries by subject.  It showed that those in traditionally male disciplines (engineering, physics) were at the top and traditionally female disciplines (education, social work) were at the bottom .

What did your paper conclude was the reason for the pay differential?  Did women professors in "male" disciplines make less than male professors in those same disciplines?  If so, that would be concerning.

It's also good to remember that the labor market and corresponding value associated with certain jobs is NOT based on merit.  We are NOT a meritocracy.  This is important to remember.  If you choose a job in a poor industry, you don't get to complain that you make less money than a neurosurgeon.

Cpa Cat

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Supply vs Demand.

There are more competent, charismatic individuals available to teach social sciences and arts than there are available to teach STEM.

Let's take my own profession - accounting - which commands reasonably high pay as professors. PhD programs in accounting are not robust. Very few accountants choose to go into academics and teach. The vast majority of my professors were Masters/CPAs with work experience. PhD Professors in accounting at my school currently make between $175,000 and $291,000 per year - and they make up fewer than 25% of the teaching faculty. Going forward into a PhD seems prudent for professors, as stopping at a Masters degree appears to limit them to a ceiling of $100,000, with most making less than $75,000, but most professors don't pursue it because they became professors as a way to downshift.

There are so many opportunities to exit academia at all levels of accounting that lead to practical hands-on jobs. Surprise surprise, but most accountants study accounting to become accountants, not professors. And that's how it is with most STEM degrees.

Taking a look at my Economics professors - all of whom were PhDs (and men - a total sausage fest) - their salaries are all five figures. There's a couple of guys making six figures and they all seem to run a department or special research units. Why? Because the Economics department was a cesspool of "I don't know what to do with my degree, so I guess I'll get some more degrees." There are a lot of Economics PhDs because no one knew what to do with an Econ BA... and then they still didn't know what to do with an Econ Masters Degree. There are few exit opportunities - and certainly not in our geographic area. But salaries aren't depressed because it's female-dominated. Far from it, there are very few women in Economics.

Women tend to gravitate to disciplines that are fun and interesting to study, with programs that let a lot of people in and jobs that people are interested in working. And in the end there are more PhDs than there are jobs for PhDs in those fields and universities get their pick of the litter. They can pick the best person there is among a whole pool of candidates to take their job and that person will accept whatever salary is offered because she doesn't have a ton of options. The accounting department, on the other hand, picks the one moderately engaging PhD who applies for their Tax Professor job and thanks god that they found someone with half a personality. And damn, if a woman with a PhD in Accounting shows up and she's good at teaching, they'll throw $291,000 at her (that's right, the top salary in the department belongs to the only female PhD of accounting at my school - and they sure don't want to lose her, because then they'll have none).

The job placement rate exiting my Masters of Accounting program was 90% BY graduation. 56% of Masters of Economics graduates at my school moved on to PhD programs instead of jobs.

It's not sexism. If you want to make more money, you have to choose fields of study where the demand for candidates is higher than the supply.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2017, 02:36:41 PM by Cpa Cat »

nobody123

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How does he have the audacity to complain that he can't file for Chapter 7 because he makes too much money, when he spends the first 90% of the article explaining how he racked up all of this debt chasing his dreams and eventually (almost) reaching his goal of a tenured position?  He got what he asked for, is going to get a settlement and pay less than he borrowed, and still thinks he is somehow the victim in all of this.  SMH.

Flynlow

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Correlation is not causation, but my main point was that society does not place as much value on traditionally female disciplines as traditionally male disciplines.

I think that rather than choosing fields based on interest, women are more likely to choose fields with good job security and stability. Also professor salaries don't necessarily correlate with industry salaries for the same discipline.

Just so we're all on the same page, sexism is not paying a "traditionally female discipline" less than a "traditionally male discipline", it would be paying a female phd engineering professor less than an equally qualified male phd engineerig professor.  If you pay a STEM major more than an American Studies major, thats called "capitalism". 

I would have loved to be a philosophy major.  I find deep introspection on the big life questions fascinating, and aced all of my philosophy electives.  Engineering pays better, and is not as fun.  I chose to be an engineer.  I don't feel like gender had a big influence on any of it.

mm1970

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I did a paper once for grad school that ranked professor salaries by subject.  It showed that those in traditionally male disciplines (engineering, physics) were at the top and traditionally female disciplines (education, social work) were at the bottom .

Did your paper just assume correlation implies causation? Maybe men have traditionally been drawn to fields which pay higher, because they were the primary breadwinners, while women have had the liberty to choose fields solely for their interest.

I suppose you also think women get paid $.77 for every $1 that men get paid.

STEM professors make more than American Studies professors because they are more useful.

I would say "useful" here is defined by industry and the government. If industry needs more engineering PhDs, salaries will rise. If the government deems Arts research not useful, then NEA gets defunded and salaries will decrease.

There are a few points to be made and things going on here.

First, comparing professor salaries by their area of expertise is not an apples to apples comparison.
Comparing male to female engineering professors would be apples to apples.  There are plenty of studies for that (I read a really good one about MIT in the 80s or 90s, and plenty of sexism there.  I assume it's gotten better, but I don't really know.)

So, when it comes to engineering and physics being better paid than social work.
- Engineering makes money.  Engineering professors go out and get funding donations from companies to fund their research.  Engineering professors provide new workers to companies. They bring in government contracts.  And they get patents that the school owns and that they license out.  (I work with a few eng  professors.)
- Social work is more of a net drain, financially.  It's a VERY important field for many reasons.  But it costs money, tax dollars.  How many companies actually are in the "social work" business?

That's not to say there isn't a "point".  For sure, if you look at historically male occupations that became female - it came with a decrease in status and salary (teaching, sewing/tailoring, cooking).

And yes, there is a salary gap across most industries and positions, while holding the work hours, title, and level and years of experience constant.  (FYI, my "pay gap" compared to the median male is 78 cents on the dollar, while the median female to male pay gap in my industry is 9%, or 91 cents on the dollar.)  The overall average gap in engineering is more like 5-10% (and begins around year one or two.)

TheGrimSqueaker

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That's not to say there isn't a "point".  For sure, if you look at historically male occupations that became female - it came with a decrease in status and salary (teaching, sewing/tailoring, cooking).

In the former Soviet Union during the last part of the Gorbachev administration, medicine was considered a "female" occupation and most doctors were female. The pay and working conditions sucked (even more than they did for the average Soviet), doctors typically took home less than semi-skilled construction workers despite having to put in years of extra study, and their job wasn't considered high-status.

SomedayStache

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I found this interesting.
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/upshot/as-women-take-over-a-male-dominated-field-the-pay-drops.html

"The study, which she conducted with Asaf Levanon, of the University of Haifa in Israel, and Paul Allison of the University of Pennsylvania, found that when women moved into occupations in large numbers, those jobs began paying less even after controlling for education, work experience, skills, race and geography.

And there was substantial evidence that employers placed a lower value on work done by women. Its not that women are always picking lesser things in terms of skill and importance, Ms. England said. Its just that the employers are deciding to pay it less."

Just Joe

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So are women just not as aggressive at demanding more pay or is this a statistics thing where women put their energy into multiple topics (career and family) and thus aren't the experts?

mm1970

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So are women just not as aggressive at demanding more pay or is this a statistics thing where women put their energy into multiple topics (career and family) and thus aren't the experts?

It's a lot of things.  The gender pay gap starts actually very early in most industries, long before "family" comes into play.

And of course there have been studies that show that women who are "aggressive" at demanding more pay are often (not always, but often) penalized for it.

a1pharm

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I found this interesting.
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/upshot/as-women-take-over-a-male-dominated-field-the-pay-drops.html

"The study, which she conducted with Asaf Levanon, of the University of Haifa in Israel, and Paul Allison of the University of Pennsylvania, found that when women moved into occupations in large numbers, those jobs began paying less even after controlling for education, work experience, skills, race and geography.

And there was substantial evidence that employers placed a lower value on work done by women. Its not that women are always picking lesser things in terms of skill and importance, Ms. England said. Its just that the employers are deciding to pay it less."
I'm going to have to read the article that the newspaper is citing later tonight, but looking at the abstract, they were only looking at a gendered labor queue vs. gendered devaluation. I want to see if the article if they controlled for economic supply. That's the simple "100 men used to apply for the job, now 200 people are applying for the job" economic view of supply and demand. When doing these studies you need to control for the economics of the situation which usually isn't done. This isn't to say that things like gendered devaluation don't play a role as well, but you can't say that wages are going down solely due to gender devaluation when the number of applicants for the job is going up.
Bingo

Aunt Petunia

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clarkfan1979

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I am a community college prof and only work 8 months out of the year. During my first 10 years I would work about 50 hours/week. However, now I'm more like 30 hours/week. If I want more money, I can get a side gig.