From a news story in today's issue of Science:
A new study finds little evidence for leaks in the U.S. pipeline for producing native-born scientists except for a steep drop in the percentage of the highest performing students taking science and engineering jobs. The findings suggest that the United States risks losing its economic competitiveness not because of a work force inadequately trained in science, as conventional wisdom holds, but because of a lack of social and economic incentives to pursue careers in science and technology.
The reason for this is supposedly the lucrative finance profession drawing away top talent. This is something supported by the numbers in various studies of choice of undergraduate major. But better incentives in a non-science field is only part of the problem. STEM careers don't just lack incentives; there are strong disincentives. But some people still don't have a clue:
Lisa Frehill, executive director of the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology, thinks the key to keeping talented STEM majors in science is to emphasize the opportunities that exist to solve society's problems. "Really good people will be less concerned about money if they can do work that is meaningful to them," she says.
Being unconcerned about money is great until you reach your 4th or 5th year of your postdoc, in your 30's, with kids, no retirement savings, and a salary that doesn't meet your monthly expenses. Selling science better is not going to fix the problem. Read the feed: