05 January 2017

Picking up the tab


I’m stepping a bit away from the poster board this week, so to speak, to talk about conference etiquette more generally. Conferences involve travel and eating out, usually in locations that cater to a lot of tourists (e.g., San Diego, New Orleans, Washington, DC) and partially hosted by hotels that are normally catering to business class. Since most conference attendees are usually early career stage scientists, cost is an issue.

Amy Lynch-Biniek wrote:

Tenured profs at conferences: adopt a “grad students and adjuncts don’t pay” rule at dinner/bar. Some did this for student-me and I never forgot.

Kate Washington added:

I was once in a grad-student dinner group that got stiffed by tenured profs who skipped out; I never forgot that either.

In fairness, that would be rude behaviour from anyone, regardless of career stage.

Drugmonkey, however, noted:

I never assume that just because (someone is a) tenured prof = moneybags that can pick up $$$ dinner checks. Should be voluntary.

Angela Vergara supports that:

I do it as much as I can, but as a prof in a state school in California, my conference budget is usually tied.

There are several issues at play here. For instance, how many people are at the conference with the professor? There’s a big difference in the cumulative tab for one trainee and half a dozen of them.

Many institutions support student travel to conferences. If a student has a per diem food allowance for a conference, it seems a little excessive for a professor to absorb all of those expenses when there are other sources of money dedicated to keeping the student fed.

I’m a little baffled that the original tweet singles out tenured professors. A tenure-track professor is still probably making significantly more than any trainee. Indeed, thanks to salary compression and inversion, tenure-track professors may be making more than tenured ones.

A professor – regardless of career stage – is expected to be a team leader. A conference is a good opportunity for leaders to say, “Thanks for a job well done,” and a good meal or a few drinks at the pub are a welcome gift. Generosity is a good feature of team leaders.

External links

Tenured profs should pick up the check?

2 comments:

Minal Kapoor said...

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