Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Happiest scientists work in Denmark, says first Nature career survey

Scientists in Denmark - compared to their colleagues in 15 other countries - are the most satisfied with their jobs, finds the first-ever salary and career survey conducted by the journal Nature. This conclusion is based on survey responses from more than 10,500 scientists fro...
Happiest scientists work in Denmark, says first Nature career survey
Scientists in Denmark - compared to their colleagues in 15 other countries - are the most satisfied with their jobs, finds the first-ever salary and career survey conducted by the journal Nature. This conclusion is based on survey responses from more than 10,500 scientists from countries across the globe.

A total of eight factors were taken into account: satisfaction with salary, holiday entitlement, healthcare benefits, maternity or paternity leave, pension or retirement plan, total hours worked per week, degree of independence, and guidance received from superiors or co-workers.

The survey finds that scientists in Denmark are particularly happy with the regulation of maternity and paternity leave (0.937 on a scale from 0 to 1.0, with 1.0 representing complete satisfaction). They also appreciate their holiday entitlement (0.87) and the degree of independence they experience in their work (0.841). Their satisfaction is in line with the findings of the World Database of Happiness, according to which subjective levels of happiness in the general population in Denmark are extremely high, too.

In the Nature survey, the Netherlands and Sweden are in second and third place with total satisfaction scores of 0.718 and 0.711 respectively. Out of eight EU countries that were considered in the study, Spain ranks lowest on the satisfaction scale (0.566).

On an international level, however, the lowest degree of job satisfaction was reported from researchers in Japan (average of 0.458), where only a very small percentage of respondents said that they were 'very satisfied' with the aspects the survey investigated. Pension plans as well as holiday entitlement figured among the least satisfactory aspect of jobs in science in Japan.

With a total satisfaction level of 0.628, the US has a low midfield rating. Scientists there were happiest with their degree of independence (0.784) and least happy with their salary (0.511).

Out of the eight satisfaction indicators, 'guidance received from superiors or co-workers' was rated highest. 'One possible conclusion here is that scientists crave guidance and mentoring, seeking assurance from others that they are likely to learn and progress - and they may place a higher premium on mentoring as science careers become increasingly competitive,' writes Gene Russo, editor of Naturejobs. Salary and 'degree of independence' ranked second and third.

The survey points out two especially problematic areas: the gender pay gap and the 'two-body problem'. Women are still paid markedly less than men - between 18% and 40% less. In Europe and North America, the gap widens about 6 to 10 years after the scientists' highest degree qualification, when men's salaries start to increase considerably relative to women's.

The two-body problem, on the other hand, concerns the difficulty of finding positions for both members of a couple when both are researchers - a highly important contributing factor to satisfaction for many respondents. 'The results may point to a worldwide need for more explicit institutional policies for easing the hiring of dual-career couples,' comments Gene Russo.

Responses for this survey were collected from dozens of countries worldwide. The 16 countries with the largest and hence the most meaningful samples, however, include Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the US.

Source: Nature

Related information

Countries

  • Denmark, United States
Record Number: 32250 / Last updated on: 2010-06-24
Category: Other
Provider: EC