In our view, your report on side jobs for scientists paints a naive and insensitive picture of the financial and social realities facing many graduate students and other early-career researchers (Nature 549, 297–299; 2017). For a group already burdened with enormous undergraduate debt, we find it irresponsible to imply that success in graduate school could hinge on having two jobs.

In reality, academia is not populated solely by young graduate students who are supported by wealthy families. Low graduate-student pay is a real barrier to a career in research, particularly for underrepresented groups and those who have child-care commitments. To help make research attractive to a diverse community, you should give more voice to those promoting serious structural solutions that will resolve financial burdens and inequities in science education.