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Postdoctoral Patterns, Career Advancement, and Problems

Science  03 Sep 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5433, pp. 1533-1535
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5433.1533

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Abstract

Postdoctoral appointments can have different functions and meanings, depending on the field and whether the postdoc is a man or a woman. The Ph.D.'s—Ten Years Later study confirmed that in biochemistry, the postdoc, not the Ph.D., has become the general proving ground for excellence both in academia and industry. Because they spent a longer time in these “mandatory” postdocs, biochemists had the largest proportion of untenured faculty 10 to 13 years after the Ph.D. In mathematics, where substantially fewer postdoctoral positions are available, Ph.D.'s taking postdocs are more likely to obtain faculty positions, but this is true only for men. University administrators should be accountable for monitoring the total time spent in these positions and should provide administrative assistance for skills training, career growth, and the job search. In addition, creative solutions concerning the dual-career couple phenomenon are necessary.

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