I’m on the People Behind the Science podcast

I’m this week’s guest on the People Behind the Science podcast!

If you aren’t a listener, you might want to try it out.  In People Behind the Science, Marie McNeely interviews a new scientist each week, focusing on who they are both in science and away from science.  She gets her guests to talk about their paths to science, about their successes and failures in science, and about books, travel, and other personal interests.

I very much like the idea of People Behind the Science.  It recognizes – indeed, celebrates – something very important: that scientists are just people.  We’re people with quirks and foibles, human virtues and human failings, interesting backstories, and all the rest.  Society often pictures scientists as somehow apart – cool and dispassionate logicians in lab coats, to be found in a fancy lab or a remote rain forest.  Really, of course, we’re just like anybody else, and we can be found in the grocery store and at concerts and with our kids at the park. I think society would integrate science better if it recognized that it’s done by people just like anyone else.  That is, I wish society knew better that there are people behind the science.

Of course, if you’re a scientist like me, you know all that.  But if you agree with me that People Behind the Science is a good idea, perhaps you could spread the word.  (You don’t have to listen to the one about me.)

© Stephen Heard (sheard@unb.ca) April 25, 2016



4 thoughts on “I’m on the People Behind the Science podcast

  1. Claire

    Steve, thanks for the tip. This looks like an interesting podcast, and I agree that the concept is important. However, when I skimmed through a few pages of the most recent interviews, I was disappointed to notice that the scientists who have been interviewed are overwhelmingly male and almost exclusively (visibly) white. I don’t doubt that all of these people individually have interesting and important contributions to what it means to be a scientist, but what does the choice of this group say about the who “people behind the science” are?


    1. ScientistSeesSquirrel Post author

      Claire – that’s a good question, and you should definitely ask it of Marie, too, as she selects the group. Small samples sizes are tricky, of course. I tabulated the most recent 50 podcasts and found 16 women and 34 men (recognizing, as you say, that there is much more to diversity than what you can read from a photograph). That’s 32% female, with a 95% confidence interval of 19 – 47% (you could narrow that CI by tabulating more podcasts). That is not inconsistent with stats I’ve seen for the makeup of “science” as a profession overall, although it is clearly inconsistent with what we would like that makeup to be. So if inclusion should be representational, I think Marie has done not a bad job. If it should be aspirational, then there is work still to be done. I’d close by noting that Marie invites suggestions for scientists she should interview, and I’m sure she’d welcome your suggestions.


  2. Marie

    Hi Claire and Steve,
    Though it is true that we have had a higher number of interviews with male guests publish lately, we do invite a diverse array of scientists with different backgrounds to participate in interviews on our program, and we are always excited to take recommendations. Let us know if there are people who you would like to hear from. Our only criteria for invited guests is that they have received a PhD/MD, have a permanent academic, industry, or government position, and are currently engaged in research or have made substantial contributions to research.



  3. Pingback: Lessons from three role models | Scientist Sees Squirrel

Comment on this post:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.