#ScienceBulletChallenge is a viral initiative aimed at reporting the untenable labor conditions of scientists in Italian public research centres. A recent investigation claims that, in the last decade, the 93,3% of italian Science personnel was hired according to the so- called “precarious employment contracts”. In Italy, we use the term “precarious” (precario) to indicate those employment contracts that are limited in time, and usually payed with a monthly income ranging around 1000 euros. When I say “limited in time”, I am pretty serious about the definition of “limited”. Many contracts last one year, but you will often get to talk with people having a stipend guaranteed for few months only. Also, the dramatic rise of inflation in recent times has meant that you just cannot live in a big city with 1000 Euros per month.
The worst part is that there is a dramatic consequence on researchers’ private life. The same investigation states that the 74% of the population sample considered has no children, although the mean age is 35. You cannot really ponder to have a family when you are not even sure of your fate in coming months. Many very advanced research centers in Europe are giving a lot of importance to the quality of life of their employees, because Science activity needs creativity to be productive, and creativity needs a good overall quality of life to be expressed. You can only imagine how much this situation is affecting Science production in Italy.
Anyways, maybe not everything is lost in terms of creativity here, as this #ScienceBulletChallenge witnesses. The deal is quite simple: as in the world-famous “ice bucket challenge”, you are dared to publish a video on social media. No ice bucket, but a “bullet” of choice. The challenged will get shot by a fictional weapon to show how researchers are “shot” and polished off everyday by the insane italian policy on public research. If you are adventurous enough to deal with Italian language, you may browse the official website. The initiative has been contrived and promoted by three anonymous researchers from Sapienza University in Rome.