Accomplishments of top science and engineering graduate students after graduate school
Robertson, Kimberley Ferriman
Graduate students in top science and engineering programs have potential for remarkable accomplishment in science and engineering. Yet few studies have examined how their careers develop after graduate school and what can be done to maximize their potential. In this study, students in top science, engineering, and mathematics graduate programs (367 men, 347 women) were assessed and tracked longitudinally for 16 years. Participants classified as especially accomplished and/or creative in science and engineering (56% of men and 41% of women) demonstrated profiles of cognitive abilities, vocational interests, and lifestyle preferences that differed from those of the other participants. Quantitative ability, investigative and social vocational interests, spouse's income, and parenthood all contributed uniquely to predicting noteworthy accomplishments in science and engineering, with fathers being more likely than mothers to be highly accomplished. Participants who were highly accomplishing in science and engineering were more satisfied with their careers than the remaining participants but equally satisfied with their lives. These findings reveal that there are multiple paths to attaining a fulfilling life.