San Diego, US. According to a recent survey carried out by the Big Data Institute, over 92% of scientists at scientific conferences are desperate for someone, just anyone, to invite them out to dinner. TheScienceWeb interviewed anonymously one of the respondents.
“You get there, you’re on your own, in a strange hotel room in a strange place, surrounded by strange people” one said. “And you know, scientists don’t really have any social skills, so it’s not like we can go up to someone and speak to them, or look people in the eye, nothing like that. And you’re just desperate for someone to talk to, you know?” they continued, tears beginng to roll down their cheeks. “You just want some no-eye-contact-stare-at-your-feet-awkward small talk, some conversation. A dinner invite? Oh my god, that would be heaven” they finished.
Shocked by this, we sought some advice from other scientists that we know.
“This is all too common, I’m afraid” said Laurie Goodwoman, queen of Bigascience, a journal with a presence at many conferences. “At the top end, you have the famous professors, they give the talks and spend the budget. And the companies, they employ people with great social skills, and those people take the professors out to dinner. That works. But at the lower end, when you have no budget and the companies aren’t interested in you, those guys are up the creek without a paddle. No-one’s inviting them to dinner. It’s a problem” she finished.
TheScienceWeb have subsequently discussed setting up a kickstarter, to allow scientists at conferences to talk via an app, rather than speak to the person sat next to them.