Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Who Wants to Be... A Science Host? (oh, pick me!)

Ever look at someone who has your dream job and wonder how they got there? For me, I usually sit around wondering about how Ira Glass got to be the host of This American Life - really, I can't think of any job that I want half as much as I want his. But, also on my list of 'ideal jobs that other people have' is that of science writer. And if not that, then science TV host - which looks even easier. Now, I am not a scientist myself... but, like most science writers, I sure do love to pretend - I even read the chatty bits of Nature and I have Reuters' science section on my blog lines (nice credentials, huh?). And, since Ira has yet to publish a how-to list that details how to become him, perhaps the science writer/host dream is the one that I should pursue now that Ziya Tong has posted a step-by-step guide to becoming her. And she does have a pretty sweet job, getting filmed as she talks about gadgets for a living. Quite frankly, she had do do a lot of fluff with ZeD before she got the cool job of getting paid to speak Geek on PBS's Wired Science, and some might argue that sawing TVs in half is still fluff. But since I'd love to get paid to geek-it-up on the tube, I'm willing to follow where she leads.

Yup, I'd be totally willing to make small talk with robot designers for a living, although I'd still rather work on This American Life. Anyone else have any lists of dream jobs, or step-by-step plans of how to get them?

UPDATE: Apparently I'm not the only one to consider jumping fields, Aetiology mentions Tong's how-to list as well.


natalie said...

Ugh. This woman is not helping the cause of women in science. She sounds like a cheerleader.

As for jobs that other people have that I want - I always wanted to be an astronaut until I realized that space travel made you all kinds of diaper-wearing crazy.

La Pobre Habladora said...

Huh - this brings up a good point. Is the representation of any woman in science a good thing, prompting more women to enter the field? Can a host of a science TV show be too... Vana White? Should she be less peppy, or does a show that talks about science in layman's terms do well to hire someone up-beat?

Mächtige Maus said...

I'd have to go with a show that talks about science in layman's terms will do well to hire someone upbeat. Science scares the average Joe or Joette. I say this because, as a forensic expert witness, I am instructed very early on to find a way to describe what I do in simple terms to the jury. They go so far as to say that the science needs to be phrased in eighth grade science terminology. Seriously. In my expert testimony training, I made the comment "think about what a typical cell looks like" and was informed that not everyone will have an idea of what a cell looks like. Shocking.

So, maybe science needs a cheerleader? And, while somewhat stereotypical that in this case the cheerleader is a woman, I think it any representation of a woman in science is a good thing. At the very least, it is a decent start.

La Pobre Habladora said...

Wow, you guys are harsh! I loved science as a kid in part because I loved The Edison Twins (sing the song with me now)- I watched it religiously when I was in the third grade. I thought Annie Edison, played by Marnie McPhail, was just like I would be when I grew up.

Or, wait, perhaps I loved The Edison Twins because I loved science?

La Pobre Habladora said...

I guess my point in the above is that, while you wouldn't want the females portrayed as mere cheerleaders for science, having some women hosts on science shows is good - even if the actresses don't actually have degrees in science. I doubt male hosts have strong science backgrounds either. If the show is geared to a younger audience, or to a general audience, you want hosts who have some energy. I'm not sure that being up-beat, or describing things in simple terms while in a setting that is meant to provide an introduction, should be reduced to cheer leading.

Mächtige Maus said...

I'm not being harsh. I'm saying that to get some people interested in science, or to get kids pulled away from the video games, you may have to take a more simplified approach initially and bring in a host that can indeed be passionate and energetic about it. So, I don't have a problem with the show and think it is probably helping draw in at least a few more little girls into the field of science.

People obviously respond to cheerleaders, no? Look at all of them pom-pomming away at a football game.

La Pobre Habladora said...

Yeah, I think we agree. What you're seeing from me is a bias against cheerleaders. I would argue that they are (often) athletes, but ones who don't help women in sports to be taken seriously - so I don't want the women who we portray in science to just be sexy, backing up old stereotypes. Brainy and sexy - fine. Ding bat and sexy... that might actually hurt the cause.

Oh, and I put up a post that includes The Edison Twins, so that I can quit hijacking this thread.

Mächtige Maus said...

Oh yes, don't get me actually started on cheerleaders. I always felt if we ever had a little girl she would grow up and want to be a cheerleader just to test my ability to let go of my disdain for the "sport".