The Economic Times of India contains an interview with Prabhakar Raghavan, chief scientist for Yahoo! and head of their labs. Raghavan talks about their studies of social networking and social influence. Then Raghavan was asked about the people undertaking these studies:
What is the percentage of social scientists in Yahoo! Labs who anchor such work ?
They constitute around 10% of our people. We are interested in social scientists who can work on data mining. But in most colleges, the sociology department doesn’t teach data mining and the statistics department does not offer sociology. That’s why emerging businesses face a serious dearth of such social scientists.
A reminder that all sorts of businesses are looking for sociology students who are well-versed in statistics (and data mining). Since many students don’t think sociology and statistics naturally go together, it is up to colleges (and sociology statistics instructors) to help them put it together. Sociology may often be billed as a discipline that will help students understand, analyze, and change the world but one often needs to be able to work with and analyze data in these efforts.
This interview is also a reminder that social scientist degree holders are not just relegated to a career in academia.