[ASC-list] Scientific literacy of our leaders?

Regan Forrest regan at reganforrest.com
Wed Feb 22 07:22:56 UTC 2012

Hi Rob,

While I recognise the phenomenon you describe, that wasn't quite what I was getting at. 

In fact, you've rather neatly illustrated the point I was trying to make, by assuming our hypothetical STEM graduate with political ambitions would be leaving a research career in order to do so. 

To my mind, our collective assumptions of this nature reinforce the notion that the only 'real' scientists are the one on the PhD-postdoc-academic research career track, and anyone who takes another path is somehow not part of "the club". That's how it can feel sometimes anyway :-)

It leaves people like me, who have a STEM qualification but on a different career path, feel very uncertain about laying claim to the Scientist moniker. Is this a wider phenomenon among non-researchers or is it just me who feels this way?


On 22/02/2012, at 5:02 PM, Rob Morrison <rob.morrison at flinders.edu.au> wrote:

> Re point 2, I understand (but have no studies to back it) that the reason often given for the lack of scientists in parliament is that, while scientists have many of the skills needed for parliament (research, analysis etc), once you leave research for even a short while, it is hard to get yoiurself back in at the same level. This seems also to apply to women who take time out for child-rearing. The same does not apply to economists or lawyers, who happily leave parliament for plush jobs taking up law and commerce where they left off but at a more senior level, finding that their parliamentary years, and contacts made there, seem to be regarded as a plus.
> Dr Rob Morrison
> rob.morrison at flinders.edu.au
> Phone: (08) 8339 3790
> Fax: (08)8339 6272
> ________________________________________
> From: asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au [asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Regan Forrest [regan at reganforrest.com]
> Sent: Wednesday, 22 February 2012 4:06 PM
> To: asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
> Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Scientific literacy of our leaders?
> In the context of scientifically-qualified politicians and business
> leaders, I think we (and by "we" I mean the broader scientific
> community) need to address how we view those who do not follow the
> career path of the lab.
> I have always felt an implicit expectation that all science graduates
> will go on to become 'practicing' scientists, and that those who take
> other paths are somehow 'lost' to the profession. Graduates of history,
> economics, philosophy and so forth do not seem to be burdened by the
> same kind of expectations.
> To me, this has two different but related consequences:
> 1) People who are business or politically minded do not see the study
> of STEM as a helpful route to that ambition
> 2) People with STEM qualifications may not feel they are sufficiently
> equipped to embark on political and business careers.
> Do others think this is an issue or am I revealing my own hangups about
> having left the lab many many moons ago?
> Regan
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