Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Financial frustrations

So I finally got an offer letter on Friday offically offering me the post-doc that I started a few weeks ago and having been counting on since May. The salary that they are giving me is $1000 less than I remember being told I could expect to count on. $1K might not sound like much but I am already being paid substantially less than I could expect to get as a post-doc elsewhere and less than I could have gotten from gov't jobs with just a M.S.

Now I know we don't go into science for the money, but this is leaving a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. I feel somewhat taken advantage of and it makes me wonder what else is going to come out not as expected. My boss probably doesn't know anything about this because S is the one who deals with our budgets and this comes down to basically my word against hers. I know that if money weren't an issue my boss would pay me quite a bit more, but I am not sure there is anything he can/will do at this point if I approach him. So is it worth approaching him?

Now that I think about it this is not the first time something like this has happened to me. My fellowship covered 3 years of grad school but the fourth year my advisor and I wrote a proposal to get me a research assistantship. Our proposal aimed a little higher than we could get from our funders so when we had to trim some K it came out of my salary and I went from 12 months of funding to 10 months, with the promise that we would "find" something to cover me. Well, I "found" something myself - the teaching gig, but my boss and S had no role in that.

As much as I like my research group the longer I stay here the more inequities I am noticing. It makes me feel less attached to the idea of staying here past next summer. That feeling is being greatly amplified by the conference I am attending this week where I have to tell people that not only did I do my PhD with my boss, now I am his post-doc. I think if I want to advance my career and make it past this miserably low salary point, I need to move on sooner rather than later. On a purely personal level, I'd be happy to stay in Utopia for a long long time. I'd love to work only part-time. But those aren't realistic options as long as I continue to be the primary breadwinner in our household. And Mini's impending arrival only makes dichotomy between personal desire and economic reality more stark.

Aside from the above thoughts which seem to be occupying an increasing amount of my head space, today was a pretty good day.

17 comments:

cash said...

Private. Sector.

Sicilian said...

Science. . . do you ever wonder if a man would be offered more . . . I would be dollars that they would.
Ciao

Dr J. said...

Go to your boss and explain it to him. Tell him you were promised more, that it is well below what you´d expect elsewhere and that you had already dealt with a lot of stuffing around with payment in your time with him. Maybe it´ll work, maybe it won´t, but you certainly won´t get more if you don´t talk to him.

Don´t take it lying down. No guy would.

Dr. Brazen Hussy said...

I totally agree with Dr. J. You've got to at least try.

JF said...

It seems like you might as well try; you have the offer, it won't be rescinded, so there's nothing to lose.

turtlebella said...

Yes, I agree with Dr. J. It doesn't pay (haha) to be accommodating.

sab said...

Is there a minimum salary for post-doc at your place? Many have them, and if you are getting less, then you can DEFINATELY fight for at least that. If not, I think it's still worth going to point out the discrepancy. I hate having to talk money, but otherwise it's easy to get screwed over in academia. Whenever I complained to the administrative people (my supervisor's always been good about these things) about dicrepancies between what I was promised and what I was getting they gave me attitude about the reward of learning and getting more than some others anyway... this is bull. Only as a student or post-doc do you start a job before you get an official offer with the details of your pay AND all the paper work through pay-roll (that one happens at my place lots... students without paycheques for the first few months).

Oh, and use that conference to network... maybe something great will come up for next summer. Currently staying where you are makes lots of sense with Mini on the way (um, dissertation + finding new job + moving + baby on the way ... you have ENOUGH on the go without the middle two)... but long term it would probably be better to move on sooner rather than later (at least that's what I'm told in my field).

Question: how do you feel about being the primary breadwinner? It was something that hadn't really occured to me (my Mom was a stay-at-home Mom) until a couple of years ago, and I find my self still getting used to this idea.

(thanks for your blog by the way, I enjoyed reading through all your dissertation lead up stuff... i'll be going through the same thing someday... hopefully without baby due too... good gracious girl, congrats on both and for surviving both! ;) )

DRD said...

I've had the "we will find something" work out in a couple of instances, but generally it only does if I really keep on it and hint I could always leave the group altogether.

I think you need to say something. Most men would. Many women would. You are already a deal in teh sense that you have already built the relationships, know the particulars of your place, etc. Certainly they should know they aren't holding up their end of the deal.

mapletree7 said...

Yes! Be angry! This is unacceptable!

Propter Doc said...

The instinct to leave is a good thing...do what you want to do in this year work-wise, and move on. It will do you a whole lot of good.

As for the money thing, yeah, you should say something and sooner rather than later. I felt the same way when my fellowship got processed and what should have been a pay rise turned into a pay cut due to suddenly having to pay all kinds of things because I got benefits.

Anonymous said...

Around here, good people whom the university assumes have attachments in town get treated like garbage until they get a really good offer from somewhere else. If you can get a job offer from a rival, chances are that if they want you, they'll do what they need to keep you.

Anonymous said...

I hope you come up with something good. It's too bad that your employers can't pay you what you're worth.

skookumchick said...

One word: negotiate. Good luck.

ScienceWoman said...

Well I did bring it up with my boss - oddly enough in a private aside at the conference banquet because the conversation at the table turned that way. So he is at least aware of the situation although that was not the time or place to get into contract specifics. Thanks for your advice everyone. And it's amazing how many money-related (e.g., it doesn't pay) phrases found their way into your writing.

PhD Mom said...

I met with a pretty famous seminar speaker last week, and his advice or perhaps observation was that salary seemed to correlate directly with the number of moves that a person makes.

Dano said...

I left academia because of just what you describe - the constant worry.

Ask for what you want, then negotiate - in your comment it sounds like you just brought up the inequity and didn't ask for more. Ask. If they treat you worse for asking, leave (easy for me to say - I'm not expecting).

Best,

D

Anonymous said...

I agree with all the above, though my advice is to do what you mention in your blog. Work there for a year then move on. If you want a career in research it is sometimes very difficult to be taken seriously (read obtain funding) if you are continuing to work at the same institution, let alone within the same lab in which you obtained your PhD.