You might have seen the Trends survey results in Chemistry World this month. The Trends survey has been run by the Royal Society of Chemistry (and it’s predecessor bodies) for almost 100 years and this is our 40th
edition. The first survey of Fellows and Associates of the Institute of Chemistry was carried out in December 1919, just over a year after the end of the First World War. The report was published in 1920, the year that Walther Nernst, of Nernst Equation fame, won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his work on chemical affinities. We have come a long way since 1920 when the average chemist aged 25 working in industry could expect to earn the princely sum of £320 per annum, including bonuses!
We use the survey to inform and support the Careers team both in providing information as part of our consultations and to support our work in the chemical science community. We find that individual members use it when contemplating career moves and benchmarking themselves against their peers. Finally, companies use it to benchmark their salaries against their own and other industries.
In the Chemistry World article there are a few highlights including the well-known fact that remuneration varies across the most populated fields of employment from teaching to oil and allied products to consulting. This is something we see as part of our research into different careers and is typical of the breadth of chemistry – a good reason to have chosen it as a career!
The article also highlights the pay gap between men and women, comparing salary within a specific age group and also comparing industry, academia and central government. The data presented is weighted data but it is worth remembering that it is a general snapshot and doesn’t take into account length of service, job title, qualifications, careers breaks or size of company. It is also difficult to tell what potential earnings might be of any individual and of course it cannot reflect what graduates in chemistry earn later in their careers, nor the choices we make throughout our career, regardless of gender.
One can’t deny that there are issues with gender in the world of work and our diversity team is looking into these separately. One of the larger projects the diversity team are looking is the ‘leaky-pipeline’ and the factors which affect those women who choose to leave chemistry.
In my opinion the most interesting thing in the article is the fact that skills training matters most to you, our members, with 39% of you citing it as the most important benefit. Training can be an important part of your career, not only enhancing your skills but making you feel valued by your employer – it is often a reason people stay in a job. Flexible working is also important, so say 32% of you. As we become carers for members of our family, as we take on portfolio careers, as we try and cut costs and time spent travelling, flexible working is a huge benefit to us and another reason to stay or something to look for in a new post.
There is limited space in any article, or blog for that matter and there is no way we can cover all of the findings of the report. The Trends survey is a huge piece of work, with over a year of planning, gathering data and reporting to go into each edition. If you want to compare yourself against someone in a similar position or want to sense check your own industry or job then I would encourage you to go and look at the report yourself
; it is free to members.