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

ktlee+ at pitt.edu ktlee+ at pitt.edu
Sat Jan 4 11:14:42 EST 1997

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 
 > > second string?
 > Probably because they are not doing the main creative work of 
 > 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 
 > called scientists too.

I've been gone for the last couple of weeks (one of the perks of 
academics) and have probably missed other responses to my question 
about "second string scientists", but the few I've seen seem to be 
responding to the techs part of my question.  I would also like to 
know why it is that teachers are sometimes considered second string. 
(or even worse, dead wood.)  

As a requirement for tenure, I must do original research.  While I am 
certainly not as productive as someone with several grad students and 
post docs and an NSF grant, I do not work only 8-5, 5 days a week.  I 
have several projects begging to be written up and will have to get my 
own funding or do my research out of pocket, as even the internal 
research funds available here are competitive.  (I have a proposal due 
next week. Keep your fingers crossed.) After talking to several people 
at the SICB meetings last week I realize that my situation is far from 

So, why is it that when I talk to other scientists and mention my 
12/12 teaching load (last term I taught three three-hour lectures per 
week plus a 3 hour lab section) that some act as if I don't have a 
real job.  (The funding agencies also behave this way according to 
other people to whom I have spoken.  You have to have a lab all set up 
to get money to get equipment to set up a lab.)

And just for the record, when I referred to techs, I was speaking of 
scientists of any level paid to work in a lab, ie. not the P.I.  In my 
experience, most of them are doing original work.  However, they are 
typically thought of in the way described above...as "underlings".

Just some thoughts after an informative (and a bit discouraging) 


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