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Do university professors have one of the least stressful jobs?

By James Dacey

Facebook poll

If you are looking for a nice, relaxing job that is reasonably well paid with excellent job security, then university professor is the career for you. At least that is according to a new ranking exercise on the website, which names “university professor” as the least stressful job of 2013 – followed by seamstress/tailor, then medical-records technician. The survey is based on criteria such as “physical demand” and “deadlines”, and is part of a more extensive categorization of the best and worst jobs that will be released in April.

Since the list was published last week there has been a mighty backlash from some members of the academic community, who feel their working life has been falsely characterized. A large dose of this anger was directed at this article in the magazine Forbes, which gleefully endorsed the results. Forbes journalist Susan Adams described the life of an academic with several gems, including “Working conditions tend to be cozy and civilized and there are minimal travel demands, except perhaps a non-mandatory conference or two.” However, after the article appeared, it received so many comments from disgruntled academics that Adams felt moved to write an addendum to reflect these sentiments and to clarify her position.

Let us know what you think about the debate by taking part in this week’s Facebook poll.

Do university professors have one of the least stressful jobs?


Please feel free to explain your answer by posting a comment on the poll.

In last week’s poll we asked you a question that involved a scientist whose fame now extends far beyond his academic research. We asked whether Stephen Hawking’s appearance in a recent advert for a price-comparison website was good for the communication of science. In the advert, Hawking is seen to create a black hole on a UK high street to destroy the comedy character known as Gio Compario. The poll was tightly contested, with 46% of respondents saying yes the advert is good for science communication, and the remaining 54% saying no it is not.

Of course, it was a very open question, so the poll attracted many comments. “It helps raise the profile of scientists in a jokey way. More and more people are now familiar with Hawking, Jim Al-Khalili and Brian Cox as TV personalities, and are enjoying and benefiting from their appearances on TV,” wrote Paul Londale. Another commenter, Raul Raúl, also has no qualms with Hawking taking part in the advert. “Isaac Asimov, a PhD in biochemistry and icon science-fiction writer and science popularizer, used to advertise IBM PC machines in late 1980s. So, let them do it,” he wrote.

Thank you for all your participation and we hope to hear from you again this week.

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