The Real Science Gap

For many decades, and especially since the United States attained undisputed pre-eminence in science during World War II, a parade of cutting-edge technologies has accounted for much of America’s economic growth. Countless good jobs now ride on whether the Next Big Thing — and the several things after that — will be developed in America and not, as many fear, in China, India, the European Union, Japan, Korea or another of the powers now producing large numbers of scientists and engineers.

Brilliant advances and the industries they foster come from brilliant minds, and for generations the United States has produced or welcomed from abroad the bulk of the world’s best scientists, engineers, inventors and innovators. But now, troubling indicators suggest that — unlike the days when the nation’s best students flocked to the challenges of the space race, the war on cancer, the tech boom, and other frontiers of innovation — careers in science, engineering and technology hold less attraction for the most talented young Americans. With competitors rapidly increasing their own supplies of technically trained personnel and major American companies outsourcing some of their research work to lower-wage countries, an emerging threat to U.S. dominance becomes increasingly clear.

Congress and successive administrations have responded with steps they have been told will solve the problem. But some of the solutions they have adopted and hope to continue — in particular, large increases in funding for research and graduate training — will, experts in the scientific labor market believe, have the opposite effect, ultimately discouraging high-achieving Americans from committing their working lives to scientific innovation. The solutions that will attract the nation’s brightest young people back to science, these experts argue, are not even on the table. >>> The
Real Science Gap | Miller-McCune Online

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