Προνόμιο των… προνομιούχων και η επιστήμη

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Ένα πεδίο που υπερηφανευόταν κάποτε ότι εμφάνιζε πολύ λιγότερες ανισότητες σε σχέση με άλλους τομείς. Ένα αφιέρωμα στο επιστημονικό περιοδικό “Nature” (μαζί με το “Science” είναι τα σημαντικότερα διεθνώς) αναδεικνύει στο προσκήνιο ένα ζήτημα, το οποίο έως τώρα συζητιόταν διακριτικά.

Η βασική διαπίστωση είναι ότι, όπως συμβαίνει και σε άλλα πεδία, η επιστήμη σε όλες λίγο-πολύ τις χώρες γίνεται πλέον προνόμιο των προνομιούχων.

Όσοι ξεκινούν από πλεονεκτική θέση ήδη από τις σπουδές τους (καλύτερα πανεπιστήμια, περισσότερες γνωριμίες κ.α.), πιάνουν στη συνέχεια τα καλύτερα επιστημονικά «πόστα», με τις μεγαλύτερες μισθολογικές απολαβές, με τα περισσότερα ερευνητικά κονδύλια στη διάθεση τους, τις περισσότερες επιστημονικές δημοσιεύσεις σε περιοδικά κύρους, το μεγαλύτερο πρεστίζ και επιρροή στην κοινωνία κ.α.

Όπως τονίζεται, «σε πολλές χώρες οι καριέρες στην επιστήμη τείνουν να πηγαίνουν στα παιδιά των οικογενειών που ανήκουν στις ανώτερες κοινωνικο-οικονομικές ομάδες». Και αυτό ισχύει από τις ΗΠΑ και τη Βρετανία ως την Κίνα και την Ιαπωνία.

Το αποτέλεσμα της διευρυνόμενης ανισότητας εδώ και λίγες δεκαετίες είναι ότι πολλοί μη προνομιούχοι κοινωνικά και οικονομικά υποψήφιοι επιστήμονες είτε απογοητεύονται και ακολουθούν άλλη καριέρα, είτε -ακόμη κι αν γίνουν τελικά επιστήμονες- «θάβονται» μέσα στην ανωνυμία, στην έλλειψη ερευνητικών κονδυλίων και στους μέτριους μισθούς.

Η συνέπεια αυτής της κατάστασης είναι, όπως επισημαίνει το “Nature”, ότι οι χώρες και οι κοινωνίες χάνουν πολύτιμα ταλέντα, που θα μπορούσαν να συνεισφέρουν σημαντικά στην ανάπτυξη και στην ευημερία τους.

Η ειρωνεία μάλιστα -ή το απαράδεκτο του πράγματος- είναι ότι οι επιστήμονες χρηματοδοτούνται αποκλειστικά ή σε μεγάλο βαθμό από δημόσιο χρήμα (δηλαδή των φορολογουμένων πολιτών), οπότε έμμεσα οι φορολογούμενοι επιδοτούν τους ήδη προνομιούχους επιστήμονες για να διευρύνουν τα πλεονεκτήματά τους.

Η δειγματοληπτική έρευνα του “Nature” μεταξύ 6.000 ερευνητών διεθνώς δείχνει ότι υπάρχει διευρυνόμενη ψαλίδα ανάμεσα στις χρηματικές απολαβές των λίγων προνομιούχων και τις σχετικά πενιχρές αμοιβές που απομένουν για τους υπόλοιπους. Αν και υπάρχει ανεπάρκεια αξιόπιστων στοιχείων για τα συνολικά εισοδήματα των επιστημόνων, ώστε να καταγραφεί το πραγματικό εύρος των ανισοτήτων, κανείς πλέον δεν αμφιβάλλει ότι το πρόβλημα επιδεινώνεται.

Μολονότι ιστορικά οι μισθοί στον τομέα της επιστήμης ήσαν λιγότερο άνισοι σε σχέση με άλλους τομείς της οικονομίας, δεν ισχύει πια κάτι τέτοιο. Σήμερα σε αρκετές χώρες οι μισθολογικές-εισοδηματικές ανισότητες στον επιστημονικό-ακαδημαϊκό τομέα (ιδίως στις βιοϊατρικές επιστήμες) είναι πλέον μεγαλύτερες από ό,τι στον δημόσιο και στον ιδιωτικό επιχειρηματικό τομέα.

Παρόλο που σχεδόν τα δύο τρίτα των επιστημόνων δηλώνουν ευχαριστημένοι από τη δουλειά τους, παράλληλα καταγράφεται μια όχι αμελητέα έλλειψη ικανοποίησης, ιδίως στην Ευρώπη, όσον αφορά τους μισθούς των ερευνητών και τον μεγάλο ανταγωνισμό για εύρεση (κυρίως δημοσίων) ερευνητικών κονδυλίων.

Τεράστιος είναι και ο ανταγωνισμός των αμερικανικών, βρετανικών, κινεζικών, αραβικών κ.α. πανεπιστημίων και ερευνητικών κέντρων, που προσπαθούν να προσελκύσουν -με οικονομικό δέλεαρ- τα μεγαλύτερα «ονόματα» από όλο τον κόσμο. Ακόμη και η παραδοσιακά λιγότερη άνιση Γερμανία έχει μπει σιγά-σιγά σε αυτό το «παιγνίδι» του ανταγωνισμού.

Αυτή η τάση εκτοξεύει τις ανισότητες, με την μεγάλη αφανή πλειοψηφία των ερευνητών, ιδίως των μεταδιδακτορικών, να προσπαθούν απεγνωσμένα να βρουν μια δουλειά ή να κάνουν μια αξιοπρεπή επιστημονική δημοσίευση. Μια μεγάλη μάζα ερευνητών χαμηλού κόστους δουλεύει στην αφάνεια των εργαστηρίων και λίγοι προβεβλημένοι επιστήμονες παίρνουν τη δόξα και το χρήμα.

Πάνω από 60% των συμμετεχόντων στην έρευνα του επιστημονικού περιοδικού, απάντησαν ότι οι εργασιακές προοπτικές τους είναι χειρότερες από εκείνες των προηγούμενων γενεών, ποσοστό που φθάνει το 70% στην Ευρώπη. Στην ερώτηση ποια είναι τα κυριότερα παράπονα ενός ερευνητή σήμερα, οι περισσότεροι ανέφεραν την έλλειψη διαθέσιμων ερευνητικών κονδυλίων (20%), τις ανεπαρκείς ευκαιρίες επαγγελματικής ανόδου (17%) και τον ανεπαρκή μισθό (16%).

To “Nature” τονίζει ότι «το ερευνητικό-επιστημονικό σύστημα χαρακτηρίζεται εγγενώς από ανισότητα και ο κίνδυνος είναι πως η κατάσταση θα χειροτερεύσει». Όπως επισημαίνει, το πρόβλημα δεν θα εξαλειφθεί από μόνο του, μέσω της αυτο-διόρθωσης, αλλά θα πρέπει να ληφθούν μέτρα, όπως στο παρελθόν έχει καταβληθεί προσπάθεια να μειωθούν οι ανισότητες σε βάρος των γυναικών επιστημόνων και εκείνων από εθνοτικές ή άλλες μειονότητες.

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