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areal scientis

C. A. Stewart cheryl at wijiji.santafe.edu
Mon Aug 29 18:58:53 EST 1994

In article <33qs6i$d96 at darkstar.UCSC.EDU> quinones at orchid.UCSC.EDU (Cathy Quinones) writes:
>I think it is worthy to discuss, if we end up agreeing that a
>"scientist" can be defined in a variety of ways.  I
>agree with you, being a scientist isn't about having X number of
>postgraduate degrees from this or that university, or having Y number of
>publications by a certain deadline.  It is about being having a curious
>nature, looking at existing information in new ways and/or collecting new
>information and (most importantly, IMO), asking the right questions. 

If that is the criterion, then every 4-year-old is a scientist.

If you have first-author and single-author publications in peer reviewed 
journals, have initiated and completed this research on your own, have
applied for and received the funding to complete research on your own 
merits,  then you are a scientist.  And normally, you need a Ph.D. to do
any of these things.  The Ph.D. is generally a necessary but not sufficient
condition for doing "real" (or complex) science in the modern world.  Until
then, you are a student of science, not a scientist.  You can do independent
research and publish papers, but you cannot submit proposals or apply for 
grants in your own name until after you get your degree.  

However, if you are regularly intiating and doing independent research and 
publishing papers, and have 3 or more substantive papers of this type, then 
your school should have already given you your degree.  If they haven't, 
they're just using you for cheap labor, and you should pack your committee 
with eminent people from the outside that have edited your papers and/or
provided positive, signed reviews of your papers (i.e. they know your work
probably more intimately than the faculty that's trying so hard to ignore your
work, the proof being in the fact that they haven't given you your degree yet),and just blow through the degree-granting process.  Schedule your defense,
have all these big guns show up, and watch the rest of your committee cower
in the corner.  Then you have the bona fide qualification you need to get the 
promotion and the raise you deserve for doing postdoctoral level independent 

Examples of women who were able to do independent (and Nobel-prizewinning) 
research while their institution continued to refuse to grant them their
Ph.D.'s are just further examples of how Universities abuse and underpay
women, not examples of "oh, you don't REALLY need a Ph.D. to call yourself
a scientist, that's just a silly piece of paper."  That's the kind of thing 
men tell women that want to be scientists when the men want a leg up (the 
"silly" piece of paper) when push comes to shove.  Believe me, that silly
piece of paper is worth a LOT of money and will buy you a LOT of freedom
to DO that independent research that you would not be able to get otherwise.

What you don't realize, Cathy, is that if you don't get the job with the
freedom you NEED to do that independent research, you have to make ends
meet some other way---which will leave you too exhausted to do this 
independent research as some kind of hobby and compete with people who
are being paid to do the same research full-time if not more.  They'll
always get the result before you do.  So much for your little hobby.  
Now junior needs to be fed.  Are you still a scientist now?  Even if
you have a Ph.D. at this point, if they've driven you out of the job that
has the freedom you need to pursue your little "curiosity-driven" projects, 
(a dirty word in the current congress, in case you haven't been reading 
Science and Nature regularly) you wind up being somebody else's tech.  
Working next to, and doing similar work as a man with a BS or an MS.
And you'll be getting less pay, since he's been at it all the years you wasted in
grad school.  

Don't kid yourself.  Sexism, discrimination and harassment have THIS affect.  


Cheryl A. Stewart		after 1 September:
Santa Fe Institute 		430 Kelton Avenue #409
1399 Hyde Park Road		Los Angeles CA 90024
Santa Fe, NM  87501

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