Money and self-esteem

Julia Frugoli JFRUGOLI at BIO.TAMU.EDU
Thu Sep 18 09:55:24 EST 1997


>In article <Judy-1809970932210001 at solace.zoo.duke.edu>, 
>Judy at amida.zoo.duke.edu (Judy Stone) writes:
><snip>... lots of stuff deleted
>|> 
>|> This talk about "society" valuing science makes me uncomfortable.  
>What I
>|> do does not directly benefit humans, and I feel blessed to be able 
>to do
>|> it at all.  I think we, as academic researchers, are responsible for
>|> demonstrating how we benefit society.  Is my salary really more 
>valuable
>|> than food supplements for poor children, medicare, or Amtrack?


Boy does this hit home!  This morning I was listening to a 
pharmaceutical company ad on CNN as I got ready for work, in which the 
female scientist told how fulfilling it was to know her drug changed 
people's lives.  How many of us have that kind of feedback from our 
science?

A few years ago I was in a conversation with two male PIs about why 
women drop out of science (one of them had just gone to some kind of 
mandatory "making science friendly for women" program and we were 
disscussing whether it helped to change the way science is taught.)  I 
mentioned that many of my female friends who "dropped out" of science 
post-PhD did it because they felt that they weren't contributing 
anything to humanity by the struggle to gain an acedemic position, and 
they could be much more effective and be happier inside themselves (the 
bottom line for many) doing something else. 

 This was a bizarre concept to these two PIs (both younger men).  They 
pointed out that they never remember worrying if they made a difference 
in the world by their career choice, basically because from day one they 
were raised that they WOULD HAVE to have a career, because that's what 
guys do, so there was never a "value" factor to weigh.  Whereas, for 
some women (fewer every day-most of us have to work to live, but not 
everyone has to be sole breadwinner) having a career was an option to 
consider, not a necessity.  The bottom line generalization: women think 
about this, men don't, therefore women have many more doubts about the 
validity of an academic track in the "big picture".  I think it's 
probably more true to say that some people think about this more than 
others, but it's begun to bother me that science tends to select for 
those scientists who never think about the ramifications of what they 
do, only where the next grant will come from.

In a particularly cynical mood,
*****************************************************
Julia Frugoli
Dartmouth College

visiting grad student at
Texas A&M University
Department of Biological Sciences
College Station, TX 77843
409-845-0663
FAX 409-847-8805

"Evil is best defined as militant ignorance."        
																										Dr. M. Scott Peck*****************************************************



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