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A Survey of Chemistry and Physics Postdoctoral Researchers’ Experiences and Career Intentions

Jennifer Dyer, Sean McWhinnie


This survey was designed to investigate whether male and female postdoctoral researchers (PDRs) in physics and chemistry had different experiences and whether this then affected their long-term career intentions. A total of 776 PDRs completed the survey. Most of the analysis was confined to those who stated their gender and declared that they worked in a chemistry or physics department.  Statistical significance was tested using Chi-squared test.  Overall, more differences were found between chemists and physicists than between the genders, indicating that there may be important cultural differences between the disciplines. Where gender differences were found, they were generally greater between male and female chemists than between male and female physicists. The data also highlighted that appraisal, induction and mentoring were still not commonplace in many departments and less than half of postdoctoral researchers actually felt valued within their department.  It is clear, therefore, that more needs to be done to improve the experience of PDRs in physics and chemistry, regardless of gender or discipline.


universities; careers;

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