Saturday, October 23, 2010

Why are there "so few" physics majors?

Administrators tell us that we have too few physics majors (even when we exceed the national averages).  Why are there fewer physics majors than one might want?

1. First, physics is hard.  Not everyone is capable of doing physics.  And even if you have the ability it takes many years of training to become competent at physics.

2. Second, physicists are poorly paid.  Considering how important physics (and the other sciences are) for national development physicists are poorly paid.  Two of my best friends, one a physics major as an undergraduate and one in engineering, changed to careers in law and medicine, physics and engineering just didn't pay them well enough.  Some of the best physics students just won't put up with it.

3. Third, physicists are poorly treated.  We are treated as hired hands by a management class that has poor values and bad judgement. The old term "wage slavery" is all too true.

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