For decades, politicians, policy makers, and industry leaders have told a disturbing narrative: An inferior educational system, this account goes, prevents many young Americans from entering STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, weakening the nation’s innovation and scientific enterprise. The resulting talent shortage, it reasons, can only be overcome by admitting larger numbers of foreign nationals who have the required skills.
Because senior researchers hire postdocs according to their projects’ need for labor, rather than the number of faculty openings awaiting the trainees, postdocs now vastly outnumber available faculty positions. The result: We have transformed a competition based on skills and talent into a lottery where few can win.
Read more about the past, present, and future of STEM post-docs in this opinion piece published in The Chronicle of Higher Education written by Beryl Lieff Benderly, a freelance writer covering health, science policy, and higher education and fellow at the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Hal Salzman, a professor of public policy and planning at Rutgers University at New Brunswick.