tech vs scientist was:Re: professionalism, women, and Oprah! (looonnngggg)

Susan Jane Hogarth sjhogart at UNITY.NCSU.EDU
Thu Jan 2 11:21:13 EST 1997


On Jan 2,  8:32am, Linnea Ista wrote:
> Subject: Re: professionalism, women, and Oprah! (looonnngggg)
> On Thu, 19 Dec 1996, Susan Jane Hogarth wrote:
>
> > ktlee+ at pitt.edu wrote:
> > >...
> > > Maybe part of the problem is the way we categorize scientists.  Why is
> > > it that we consider techs and scientists with enormous teaching loads,
> > > second string?
> >
> > Probably because they are not doing the main creative work of science.
> > This is the same reason that we don't know the name of any of the
> > artisans in (for example) Michelangelo's workshop, even though they
> > almost certainly did much of the work. I'm not sure why this is seen as
> > such a harsh concept. It seems like some people want the convenience of
> > an 8-5 job with no writing or funding responsibilities, but want to be
> > called scientists too.
>
> Sorry- I have to respond to this one! My official position in this
> laboratory is "Lab Supervisor" and because I have an MS instead of a
> PhD I am often considered a tech. I am in charge of an entire project in
> this laboratory. I work  at least 10 hours a day and come in many weekends
> (comparable to the post-docs in the lab and certainly more hours than the
> grad students). I design the experiments, collect and interpret the data.
> I train students. I write my own papers. I help write
> grants (I would write my own, but not having a PhD, I cannot). I contribute
> just as much to the creative aspects of the research as anyone, and I
consider
> myself just as much of a scientist as anyone in the group (as does my boss,
> the PI). I am *doing* science after all, I am just a little less involved
> in the administrivia of working in an academic institution.
>
> One of my best friends from grad school was in a similat position. Please
> consider this carefully before you paint all "techs" with the same
> dismisive brush!

Yes, and my best friend is also in the same (or similar) position - and I envy
you all! ;-)  Really, though; I think this might just be a matter of semantics
and of sloppy thinking/writing (on my part). Someone in the above position is
not a technician in my mind. Sorry if I gave offense.

ALSO, I don't think of technicians in a "dismissive" sense - they are a vital
part of any most sizable labs. Small labs suffer for lack of the continuity and
professionalism that a technician can bring to the lab. If you do all the
ordering, paperwork, prep work, etc., in your lab as *well* as initiating
research, than in my mind you have two jobs. No wonder you work weekends!

One last thing. You write:

"I help write  grants (I would write my own, but not having a PhD, I cannot)."

Is this _true_? How idiotic! Is it truly the lack of a PhD, or the lack of a
lab/program of your own? In my old department there was one PI who only had a
master's. He is quite young, well published, very productive and *extremely*
sharp. He just saw no need to get a PhD (this may be a bad carreer move if he
ever decides he wants to move to another department, but our department
supported him nicely). He has a lab and students, a tech, everything. I don't
know if he had to have a co-author on all his grants or not...

Anyway, sorry (again) if I offended you. In my mind, "scientist" and
"technician" are two seperate things, but that doesn't stop the phenomonally
energetic among us from doing both! (some of us have a hard time with just
"student" :)

-- 
Susan 

http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/users/s/sjhogart/public/home.html
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