January 6, 2009, - 7:33 pm

Mathematicians: The New “Sexiest Man Alive”?

By Debbie Schlussel
I’m not saying this is how I think–it isn’t. But the fact is that in our base society, a man’s wallet is to a woman’s looks. Each is the determining factor to most, regarding desirability and attractiveness. It is what it is. And many women judge men by their financial worth, with men judging women by looks. You don’t see very many fat, ugly women married to gazillionaires and vice versa.
So, given this looks- and money-obsessed society in which we live, the sexiest man alive is a . . . mathematician?! If wallets are the test, a new study says the best occupation in terms of making a living–steady stream of income, low stress–is that egghead dude who knows all the formulas (in this story, it’s a woman, but you get the point):

Nineteen years ago, Jennifer Courter set out on a career path that has since provided her with a steady stream of lucrative, low-stress jobs. Now, her occupation — mathematician — has landed at the top spot on a new study ranking the best and worst jobs in the U.S. . . .
The study, to be released Tuesday from CareerCast.com, a new job site, evaluates 200 professions to determine the best and worst according to five criteria inherent to every job: environment, income, employment outlook, physical demands and stress.

bestworstjobs.jpg

The findings were compiled by Les Krantz, author of “Jobs Rated Almanac,” and are based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau, as well as studies from trade associations and Mr. Krantz’s own expertise.
According to the study, mathematicians fared best in part because they typically work in favorable conditions — indoors and in places free of toxic fumes or noise — unlike those toward the bottom of the list like sewage-plant operator, painter and bricklayer. They also aren’t expected to do any heavy lifting, crawling or crouching — attributes associated with occupations such as firefighter, auto mechanic and plumber.
The study also considers pay, which was determined by measuring each job’s median income and growth potential. Mathematicians’ annual income was pegged at $94,160, but Ms. Courter, 38, says her salary exceeds that amount. . . .
Other jobs at the top of the study’s list include actuary, statistician, biologist, software engineer and computer-systems analyst, historian and sociologist.
Mark Nord is a sociologist working for the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service in Washington, D.C. He studies hunger in American households and writes research reports about his findings. “The best part of the job is the sense that I’m making some contribution to good policy making,” he says. “The kind of stuff that I crank out gets picked up by advocacy organizations, media and policy officials.”
The study estimates sociologists earn $63,195, though Mr. Nord, 62, says his income is about double that amount. He says he isn’t surprised by the findings because his job generates little stress and he works a steady 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. schedule. “It’s all done at the computer at my desk,” he says. “The main occupational hazard is carpal tunnel syndrome.”
On the opposite end of the career spectrum are lumberjacks. The study shows these workers, also known as timber cutters and loggers, as having the worst occupation, because of the dangerous nature of their work, a poor employment outlook and low annual pay — just $32,124. . . .
But Eric Nellans, who has been cutting timber for the past 11 years for Pike Lumber, is passionate about his profession. “It’s a very rewarding job, especially at the end of the day when you see the work you accomplished,” he says. Mr. Nellans, 35, didn’t become discouraged even after he accidentally knocked down a dead tree and broke his right leg in the process four years ago. “I was back in the woods cutting timber in five weeks,” he says.
Other jobs at the bottom of the study: dairy farmer, taxi driver, seaman, emergency medical technician and roofer.
Mike Riegel, a 43-year-old roofer in Flemington, N.J., says he likes working “outside in the fresh air.” Since he runs his own business, which he inherited from his father, he can start and end his day early in hot weather or do the opposite when it’s cold.
The study estimates roofers earn annual incomes of $34,164, which Mr. Riegel says is consistent with what he pays new employees. Roofers also ranked poorly because of their hazardous working conditions. “You obviously can’t be afraid of heights,” says Mr. Riegel, who once fell two stories while working on a rooftop in the rain but luckily landed safely on a pile of soft dirt. “I missed some cement by 10 feet.”

While a wallet may be sexy to many women, the fact is that these men in the dangerous, low-paying jobs actually do and produce things. No, they are not from the cerebral disciplines. But there’s something to be said for–and something appealing about–men doing masculine work like this. Some of it is also work that is so hard and physically challenging that it cannot be done into old and even middle age for a living.
Given the way the economy is going, though, many more in our society may have to return to this type of work as manufacturing and white collar jobs disappear and college becomes more and more meaningless.

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13 Responses

Interesting. Me? I’m an engineer – I didn’t really make either list.
But I do plenty of logging (1) at my cabin when on vacation. I roofed my parents house (6) the summer I turned 18. And I recently bought a wire feed/MIG welder(8) to play with.
And yeah, I’ve needed stitches after getting into it with a chainsaw, but I was back in the woods cutting timber the next day.
I guess the point of the story was the correlation between income and desirability and attractiveness. Fug that too, I make plenty doing what I do…I drive a 37 year old car and wear sneakers to work. BECAUSE I CAN!!!
I guess the thing that gets me is that I use my free time to do some of these “worst jobs” as hobbies and recreation.
Silly humans.

Richard on January 6, 2009 at 10:23 pm

I thought the tough guys were the sexiest and most appealing to the ladies.
I’ll bet Debbie Schlussel is more attracted to the guys on the “worst” list, because those are the “real men” type of jobs.
Not to disparage the “easy” jobs. It’s just that they aren’t as “masculine” as the tough jobs.

PersonOfTheBook on January 6, 2009 at 10:43 pm

POTB,
Real men get old too.
I’m damn glad I have an “easy” job, I count my blessings every day. How would you like to work till you’re 65 digging ditches or being a roustabout?
The thing to consider is that when one undertakes these “worst” jobs as a hobby or recreation, is that you are doing it by choice and not necessity. When I’m working for me I can drink beer and knock-off early. Hah!

Richard on January 6, 2009 at 10:57 pm

It would have been interesting to see the methodology of this study. Historian? Sociologist? Even mathematician? I guess they are good jobs for those who get them, but the competion is tremendous for them. Lots of history & soc majors who can’t get jobs in their field, and lots of Ph.D’s that are lucky if they become adjunct professors in all three of these occupations.
No argument about the worst jobs, but there is an 11th — being in the cab with one of these foreign, anti-American taxi drivers.

c f on January 6, 2009 at 11:52 pm

Richard: I have an “easy” job as well. I sit at a desk all day.
My previous job required me to be on my feet a lot.
I’m glad that I have an “easy” job, but I know that I’d be healthier if there was more physical effort required on my job.
The key is to get exercize when you can. And one day, I will!

PersonOfTheBook on January 7, 2009 at 12:01 am

Seems to me that money isn’t the only factor in these jobs. They are also rank in how cushy they are. Manual labor jobs are inherently penalized. Some of those jobs listed as the ‘worst’ financially beat some of those jobs listed as the ‘best’.
And what is deemed as cushy seems very much in the eye of the author. To me it seems that some of those ‘worse’ jobs have better pay and/or lower stress than some of those ‘best’ jobs. The author seems like a real physical labor wuss who is snobby about it as well.

jpm100 on January 7, 2009 at 6:15 am

This list requires one major correction. Number one should be, any Government job! Where else can one receive so much, for so little contribution, and complete job security?
I would exclude our men and women in uniform however. They are money well spent.

VBurckard on January 7, 2009 at 7:53 am

Teachers don’t appear on either list, so I guess we are somewhere in between the best and the worst. I guess that’s about right.
As to “attractiveness”, it all goes back, IMHO, to evolutionary needs for producing offsprings and taking care of them after they are produced.
Attractive women “tend” to be healthier and therefore can produce healthy children. So when a man is checking out a woman’s bust and hips, he is looking for her ability to produce and nuture his children.
The better off a man is financially, the better he is able to provide for a woman who has borne his child. That’s why rich and powerful men have always had the inside track in winning attractive women.
Think about that the next time a sex scandal hits another politician (which it will).

greenlynn on January 7, 2009 at 10:39 am

Two points. The first point is the “best jobs” look like they are in math/science fields. Probably has to do with less interaction with people. Dealing with co-workers who have certain attitudes or beliefs can make any position unbearable. Working in a profession such as a teacher where your performance is based on children whose parents don’t give a damn can make that occupation very miserable.
A wallet making a man more desirable is true to a certain point. Once a man makes a certain amount to provide for her then she will see if he is controllable. If he isn’t controllable, she will fetch another man. Very few woman are secure enough to be with a man who doesn’t take his cue from her. If he isn’t doing what she says, it usually “Out the door, Babe”.

californiascreaming on January 7, 2009 at 10:53 am

Having to interact with people, like students, can be “challenging,” but also very satisfying. At least, that’s the way I’ve found it.
As for being “controllable,” well, the entire point of being married is that you can help each other realize your full potentials. While you cannot change someone entirely in a marriage, you can help each other improve on the basic model.
I told my wife at the outset that she was free to make suggestions as to how I could do better. That way, she is never guilty of “nagging” me because I take her advice as her attempt to help me become more fully human.
It all comes down to one’s attitude. My wife loves me and wants the best for me. So I take her advice with that spirit in mind.

greenlynn on January 7, 2009 at 2:06 pm

I’m a lumberjack, and I’m okay.
I sleep all night. I work all day.
Mounties : He’s a lumberjack, and he’s okay.
He sleeps all night and he works all day.
I cut down trees. I eat my lunch.
I go to the lavatory.
On Wednesdays I go shoppin’
And have buttered scones for tea.
Mounties: He cuts down trees. He eats his lunch.
He goes to the lavatory.
On Wednesdays he goes shopping
And has buttered scones for tea.
Chorus : I’m (He’s) a lumberjack, and I’m (he’s) okay.
I (He) sleep(s) all night and I (he) work(s) all day.
I cut down trees. I skip and jump.
I like to press wild flowers.
I put on women’s clothing
And hang around in bars.
Mounties : He cuts down trees. He skips and jumps.
He likes to press wild flowers.
He puts on women’s clothing
And hangs around in bars?!
Chorus : I’m (He’s) a lumberjack, and I’m (he’s) okay.
I (He) sleep(s) all night and I (he) work(s) all day.
I cut down trees. I wear high heels,
Suspendies, and a bra.
I wish I’d been a girlie,
Just like my dear Mama (or Papa in later versions)
Mounties : He cuts down trees. He wears high heels,
Suspendies, and a bra?!
Chorus : I’m (He’s) a lumberjack, and I’m (he’s) okay.
I (He) sleep(s) all night and I (he) work(s) all day.
Yes, I’m (He’s) a lumberjack, and I’m (he’s) ok-a-y.
I (He) sleep(s) all night and I (he) work(s) all day

greenlynn on January 7, 2009 at 2:53 pm

1)Whoever did this study seems to place a lot of value on “low stress.” People actually vary considerably as to how important this is to them: many people actually *seek* stress.
2)The idea that jobs like “mathematician” and “software engineer” are automatically low stress is pretty naive. Mathematicians at NSA in the wake of 9/11 were probably under quite a bit of stress, and software engineers are regularly under considerable deadline stress.
3)A category like “welder” covers lots of different jobs. Welder in an auto assembly plant is usually pretty safe; welder on an offshore oil platform is less safe but very well paid.

photoncourier.blogspot.com on January 7, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Dear Debbie Schlussel and readers,

You say that, “While a wallet may be sexy to many women, the fact is that these men in the dangerous, low-paying jobs actually do and produce things.” You’re right Debbie. Mathematician’s and software engineers don’t really produce anything. The men who wrote the algorithms allowing us to have the computational technology with which we are all viewing this website never produced a damn thing. Well, not compared to a lumberjack. I mean, a lumberjack has to *cut* trees down. That’s hard work, and it’s dangerous. The mathematicians, on the other hand, simply read and analyze long, complicated pieces of literature on subjects that most people cannot understand, then they have to analyze and interpret that material in a way such that they can identify a problem to solve, then they have to conduct years of research without any hope finality. After many years of contemplation, some mathematicians and scientists are able deliver new methods for solving problems that allow people like engineers to make the many meaningless things that our “base” society so dearly appreciates: like cell-phones, televisions, kitchen appliances, automobiles, pharmaceuticals, etc. But let’s not forget, these people work in comfortable environments so they didn’t “do or produce” anything difficult, right?. Moreover, most of these mathematicians are also professors, so they have to teach classes at the university level, helping students to develop into contributing members of society. To do this requires mastery of difficult subject material. But, this doesn’t qualify as meaningful production either–because, Debbie, as you so accurately stated, “college [is] become[ing] more and more meaningless.” And so, I too wish that all of those mathematicians, engineers, scientists, and software developers would just man up and wield an axe or a chainsaw as they rightfully ought to. At least that would be productive. Who need intellectuals these days anyway? Like you said, the economy is bad– what we need are men; men with weapons and muscles. After all, there’s no better way to solve problems than with brute force. So I agree, there’s no way a Biologist or a Industrial Designer could ever be as sexy or productive as a Diary Farmer or a Garbage Collector.

A Mathematician on October 1, 2010 at 9:43 pm

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