Below are the questions that my readers and I have come up with. If you need any clarification, please feel free to shoot me an e-mail. I will run your unedited response as soon as you give me permission to (and not a moment before!)
1. Which ACS program do you think best helps the job-seeking ACS member? How would you improve it?
2. Is it ACS policy to get more students to study in STEM fields, specifically chemistry? If so, how do we reconcile the fact that wages for chemists are stagnant or falling? Does this argue against the idea of a STEM shortage and the need for more STEM students?
3. Each ACS president candidate, for at least the past decade, knows the challenging job market facing ACS members and inevitably speaks of "growing jobs" in the US. Specifically, what tangible steps would you take to increase the number of chemistry jobs in the US, and is this something you think is really achievable?
4. How would you describe ACS' response to the Great Recession and the increase in unemployment amongst its members? How should ACS respond to similar situations in the future?
Thank you for the opportunity! Again, please let me know if you have questions.Yesterday evening, Professor Nelson responded with her statement. The entire e-mail is reproduced below:
A statement which answers your questions and more is inserted below. I hope this will explain my thoughts.
The ACS provides assistance with resumes, cover letters for job applications, interview strategies, negotiation, etc. ACS members who believe they need improvement in these areas have those resources.
However, I think the real problem is simply an imbalance between the number of chemists and the number of jobs for chemists in the US. One can view this as too many chemists or as too few jobs. Acting based on the former perspective will require that the number of chemists be reduced. One way to do this is obviously to reduce the number of future students steered toward chemistry, but I would rather try other solutions before taking this possibly irreversible step.
The ACS programs mentioned above can enhance job skills of existing chemists and train them for a wider variety of jobs. Acting on the latter perspective makes the question how to create more jobs in chemistry or how to reverse the job reduction trend.
There may be no easy or quick solution for increasing chemistry jobs. However, a worthy approach is to bridge to the public in order to make science and scientists more popular. If the general public becomes more comfortable with us, it will be easier to converse with them and enable them to see our perspectives in scientific issues. If all ACS members practiced this, it would resolve many of the problems and barriers which plague us now. So how can we do this?
Building bridges to the public must become an activity for all ACS members. It should not be reserved only for leaders or regarded as a special talent of only a few spokespeople. This is an activity which should be carried out routinely by all ACS members (and leaders) taking opportunities to speak to various groups which we already know. Examples are Rotary Clubs, Chambers of Commerce, PTA, churches, neighborhood cookouts, etc. We should each communicate what we do as scientists, our scientific ethics, our dedication to improving the world, etc. In short, we should all insure that the public knows the excellent people we are.
Currently, it seems the US general public realizes that the high standard of living to which they are accustomed is brought to them courtesy of science and scientists. They enjoy the products, but they don't think about their source. By each of us simply telling the public about ourselves, they would come to know us better.
It may be difficult for some scientists to take an initiative to discuss the fabulous things they bring the world, because scientists are typically modest. However, all 166,000+ of us must try to do this.
Donna NelsonThanks to Professor Nelson for her responses. The other candidates will have their responses published within 24 to 48 hours after they have been received.