women in science and breadth

Jennifer L. Potter jras at post.its.mcw.edu
Thu Jan 25 16:26:17 EST 1996

kh11 at cornell.edu (Kathie T. Hodge) wrote:
>I found an interesting web site this evening on women as scientists over
>the last 4000(!) years:
>A paragraph in their Introduction touched a nerve:
>> Today we define a scientist as someone who usually has a Ph.D. and works 
>> in a technical field. This person is a specialist in a narrow field of 
>> research, and often is well trained in only that field. Today's Ph.D. 
>> shows special aptitude and creativity in a particular discipline and 
>> rarely shows the same talent outside that discipline.

An interesting quote, but I take issue with the last statement.  As a 
Ph.D. candidate I feel that my grad studies have not only trained me in 
techniques and literature related to my field, but in a broader sense 
have really honed my critical thinking skills.  Thus I feel that I would 
show this same talent wherever I go.  I guess I look at the Ph.D. as 
training in problem solving - logic is certainly required, but so is 
creativity in many ways.  

I myself have often wished that I had been "classically 
trained"....remember when scientists were required to know 1 or 2 foreign 
languages?  Or had a great command of not only chemistry, but was also 
knowledgable in unrelated areas?  On the flip side, during those times I 
imagine if you needed a machine, you made it or fixed it yourself and I 
don't think there was -quite- the body of information to master as there 
is today.

Regarding the job search, I may be delusional, but I like to think that 
even if I left science I would be an asset in many different job 
situations.  I am trained in problem solving and assume that I could 
pick up the "tools" along the way to solve whatever the problem might 
be.  I haven't tested this yet, and if all goes well, I may never have 
to, but from what I read about finding a faculty position I may very well 
find this out in about 4 years.

Jennifer L. Potter
jras at post.its.mcw.edu
PhD candidate, Medical College of WI 

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