Monday, June 25, 2012

Senior Chemists Committee? You can do better than that...

In this week's C&EN, George Heinze talks about the creation of a Senior Chemists Committee. Why?
Almost 38,000 ACS members are more than 60 years of age; they constitute 23% of the membership and are the fastest growing demographic in the society. More than 18,000 of these members are still working and active in the profession. A large number of the others are engaged in part-time work (such as consulting, contracting, and teaching). 
Its mission statement and goals?
The Senior Chemists Committee is a group of highly professional, volunteer chemists whose mission is to enrich the educational, technical, and cultural lives of the ACS membership by ministering to and employing the talents of senior ACS members (over 50).” SCTF [Senior Chemists Task Force] includes members under 60 in case they want to provide input to or use services of the committee. 
The goals for the committee, drafted by SCTF, are as follows: 
- Sharing with ACS members of all ages a rich variety of personal experiences and expertise gathered over many years of professional service;
- Fostering interest and participation in the science of chemistry through community outreach, especially in grades K­–12;
- Acting as science advisers and ambassadors for the purpose of cultural exchange at home and abroad; and
- Providing senior ACS members with challenging, diverse, and enjoyable professional experiences that enable them to contribute to the cultural experiences of their communities.
I think this is a good idea, but the SCTF has failed to think about crucial #chemjobs issues (or chosen not to talk about them.) Here's my rationale for a SCC:
  • Because of the poor economic situation (poor 401k growth, job loss, etc.), today's senior chemists will not experience the retirement situation that the previous generation has been blessed with (i.e. retirement at 60-65, followed by 20 years of enjoyment at spending down their retirement funds.) They're going to have to work longer, period. 
  • Senior chemists face higher-than-median unemployment (4.7% for the 50-59 cohort, 4.2% for the 60-69 cohort, median at 3.8% for the latest complete data.
  • Age discrimination is likely to continue; Society members need a place to get information about how to avoid it, and how to fight it. 
I'm sure it was just an oversight. 

1 comment:

  1. I think it's a great idea. Let ACS devote all its resources to catering to baby-boomers, and may be it will ride into sunset with them. On a more realistic note I hope ACS/C&EN notices that every letter from senior member is publish is jeered for being absolutely clueless about modern realities, so perhaps instead of the programs where they tell kids how cool chemistry is, ACS could come up with a program where kids explain to them what's going on IRL. Well, I guess that was not too realistic either, was it?

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