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Science Careers Blog

January 16, 2008

A Fascinating Post about Generational Differences

Lately, I've noticed more older people complaining about the current generation of young workers. We've posted several recent examples on our blog, here, and here, and here. Most recently, at a news conference earlier this week, NSF Director Arden Bement  remarked that young workers today seek a short-term payoff -- a serious problem for the science establishment.

In a smart post about intergenerational differences ("Obama's victory in Iowa sheds light on today's workplace"), Penelope Trunk (aka Brazen Careerist) puts forward some interesting ideas.

"Gen Y plays by the rules, meets expectations, and in the same step, pulls the rug out from under the people with power," Trunk writes. "How? By refusing to pay dues, by customizing their own career paths instead of lusting after a promotion, and by job hopping when learning curves get flat." And in the process, they're pushing the boomers aside, she writes. "They can work within the established lines of business to get what they want, but they get it faster than we expect."

These folks aren't going to spend 10 years in a postdoc, waiting for something to happen. If we want to keep them in science -- some of them at least -- we need to offer them some other options. Soon.

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