I’ve been told my posts are intimidatingly long, what with the twitter generation’s sound byte attention span. Normally I’d say, screw that! It’s because my ideas are so freaking nuanced they can’t be condensed to under a paragraph without losing their essence!
But today I acquiesce; here’s a short post containing at most one idea.
Namely, I’ve been getting pretty strong reactions online and offline regarding my post about whether an academic math job is a crappy job. I just want to set the record straight: I’m not even saying it’s a crappy job, I’m simply talking about someone else’s essay which describes it that way. But moreover, even if I were saying that, I would only be saying it’s crappy (which I’m not) compared to other jobs that very very smart mathy people could get. Obviously in the grand scheme of things it’s a very good job- safe working conditions, regular hours, well-respected, etc., and many people in this world have far crappier jobs and would love a job with those conditions. But relative to other jobs that math people could be getting, it may not be the best.
Many professors of math (you know who you are) have this weird narrow world view, that they feed their students, which goes something like, “if you want to be a success, you should be exactly like me (which is to say, an academic)”. So anyone who gets educated in a math department is apt to run into all these people who define success as getting tenure in an academic math department, and they just don’t know about or consider other kinds of gigs. It would be nice if there was a way to get a more balanced view of the pros and cons of all of the options.