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Scientists pessimistic about life after Covid-19

Flash survey by OECD finds half of all researchers worried about job security and careers

Scientists around the world are downbeat about their post-coronavirus careers, according to a flash survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, with women in particular feeling the pinch.

“Most researchers are experiencing, or are expecting to experience, a deterioration in their job security and career opportunities,” said Michela Bello, who is leading the survey at the OECD. Of 1,100 researchers surveyed up until 9 July, around 50 per cent expressed pessimism about their career prospects.

“Women and younger researchers are more affected than other respondents in this regard,” said Bello.

Some of the results reflect ongoing concerns that the pandemic is having a bigger impact on women, with female scientists more likely to say it has left them less time available for research than men, at 45 per cent compared with 34 per cent.

The survey is self-selecting and ongoing, with the majority of respondents hailing from Europe and the Americas.

While scientists in the survey have been broadly negative about how Covid-19 has impacted them individually, the results on the overall impact of science and its impact on policy during the pandemic are more upbeat.

“Survey respondents believe that scientific expertise will play a greater role in policy advice,” said Bello. More than 50 per cent say the overall reputation of science has been enhanced during the pandemic.

But Bello points out that the availability of money for research remains “a major concern”, with 42 per cent of male researchers and 45 per cent of female researchers experiencing or expecting to see a fall in funding.