Why does she have to be one or the other? After I read the article on Dr. Laura Grant in the Sunday Times, I was hugely heartened to hear about a woman who is using her wider appeal and role hosting the upcoming television show, The Big Experiment on the Discovery Channel, to encourage more children, and in particular girls to go into the sciences. While I would have been happier had the article not started with a description of her physical rather than mental assets, I was pretty shocked then when looking at some of the criticism levelled at her by in the scientific community – namely that since her PhD is in science communication – so does she count as a scientist at all?
I think people are splitting hairs and ignoring all the good Dr. Grant can do for the sciences, which as we all know is hemorrhaging students to the point where some university departments are being forced to shut. It is unnecessarily divisive to criticise her since her PhD is not in a technical subject and completely misses the point of what she is trying to do. Furthermore holding her to a standard that a mere fraction of scientists ever reach seems to be antithetical to the idea that science can and should be enjoyed by everyone – which is surely the first step in attracting young people to the field! Indeed those with a background in science communication are often the biggest advocates for these fields though with the hoops they have to jump in order to be considered a "real scientist" you wonder why they try!