Can I use my powers for good? [closed]

I hesitate to ask this question, but I read a lot of the career advice from MathOverflow and math.stackexchange, and I couldn’t find anything similar.

Four years after the PhD, I am pretty sure that I am going to leave academia soon. I do enjoy teaching and research, but the alpha-maleness, massive egos and pressure to publish are really unappealing to me, and I have never felt that I had the mathematical power to prove interesting results. However, I am really having trouble thinking of anything else to do. Most people seem to think that the main careers open to mathematicians are in banking and finance. I really want to work in some field where I can use mathematics, but it is also important to me to feel like I am contributing something positive or at least not actively doing harm. For this reason, financial speculation is very unappealing to me, although I do find the underlying mathematics quite fascinating.

Here is my question: what careers which make a positive contribution to society
might be open to academic mathematicians who want to change careers?


If you are in the US, there are several thousand institutions of higher learning, and at many of them there is very little “pressure to publish”. At others, the “pressure to publish” can be met by publishing a textbook or some work of scholarship that does not require proofs of interesting (original) results. High schools also need qualified Mathematics teachers. Consider staying in academia, just moving to a different part of it, as an option for using your powers to do good.

I suspect, but cannot be sure, that much of what I’ve written applies outside the US as well.

Source : Link , Question Author : Community , Answer Author :
Gerry Myerson

Leave a Comment