Last week, wormsense had dinner with labor economist, Hilda Kahne. During her long academic career, Dr. Kahne worked as both a scholar and an administrator and applied her expertise in economics to work and working women. As wormsense, her mother, Dr. Kahne and her husband sat down to dinner, Dr. Kahne immediately asked about gender balance in my scientific life and in my academic department. In my department of 15 faculty, three are women.
The conversation prompted me to read one of Dr. Kahne’s papers from 1973, the same year that Billy Jean King defeated Bobby Rigs in a highly publicized tennis match and that OPEC imposed an oil embargo, driving gasoline prices up four-fold.
A few things stuck in my mind while as I read, but in the interests of keeping this post shorter, I will mention only this one. Kahne predicted that the supply of PhD researchers will likely exceed the demand for academic researchers in the coming decades. But, opined that “this will probably not result in widespread unemployment for doctorate recipients…but will require a reordering of priorities.” Indeed, recent data complied by NIH shows that 98% of PhDs in the life sciences are employed, but that only 30% are employed in academia. Forty years later, her predictions are spot-on!