Monday, February 25, 2013

High Debt--No Job: What Field Are You In?



A Monday Musing sparked by an article in the NYT yesterday on a crisis in one particular field of training.

Let's see: 

--80% of current graduates are women.
--The available trainiing programs are increasing the number of applicants admitted (to increase their profitabality to their schools), even though
--The number of jobs is declining (last year, 39% of graduates had no job offers), and
--Starting salaries are dropping, in fact
--The educational debt of new graduates is, on average, three times the size of their starting salary. 

Think we are talking about museums? Hah, wrong. Veterinary Medicine.

This article in the New York Times yesterday outlines the current crisis in veterinary medical training, and the parallels to museum training are eerie. 

One thing that struck me about the story was the interviews with young vets, who fell in love with the idea of entering their profession at an early age, and couldn't give up their dream even when it became clear the economics of the choice were a disaster. Though it often didn't become clear until after they graduated and faced the stark reality of finding a job and paying back their student loans. 

Another point that caught my attention was the correlation between the feminization of the profession (80% of current graduates, as opposed to 20% thirty years ago), and the decline in average salary. Are women more willing to take low-paying jobs in fields they want to work in (including education and social sciences) therefor driving down the salaries in those professions? Are they less willing to negotiate for higher pay? Correlation is not causation, but it makes you wonder. My colleague, Phil Katz, argues that if we want to raise salaries in museums, we should promote gender equity in hiring, and aim for at least 50% of the profession, across specialties, to be male. What do you think? 

2 comments:

Fiacre said...

A recent video from Tufts University vet students making the same point about debt and jobs. To your point about gender, note the percentages in who appears on screen.

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10200799066243155

The Alliance's Center for the Future of Museums said...

Fiacre--that video is hilarious, thank you for sharing. What would the equivalent video for museum studies graduates show--student's confined to collections storage? Suffering from dermestid infestation?