As an undergraduate biology major, I definitely think all students should
be informed about possible hazards. I took an organic chemistry lab
course last semester in which many students had little or no experience
with lab beyond inorganic chem. It was made very clear at the beginning
of the term that food was not permitted in lab, that no contact lenses
were to be worn, and that safety goggles were a necessity at all times.
Warnings about chemicals were often included in our lab manual and we
were taught disposal and use techniques for the hazards we encountered.
To me, it seems as if not warning students about teratogens is as stupid
as not warning them about silica gel or concentrated acid. It is far
easier to avoid risks if you know what they are!
Most importantly, perhaps, the information should be given to all
students to avoid singling out the women (or the men if it is the
opposite sort of hazard). It seems as if, otherwise, you run the risk of
making women feel as if it isn't OK to ask or to worry, as if that makes
them less of a scientist. All scientists must worry about hazards, and
chemicals that are potentially more dangerous to women, or to pregnant
women, should not be a special category; such warnings should be part of
basic routine, just as would a warning about a carcinogen or radiation.
With the perspective of a college sophomore,
troberts at fas.harvard.edu