The Activator, Volume 1, Number 8, May 1945 Page: 176
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WHAT THEY ARE THINKING ABOUT IN OREGON!
The following comments appear in "FROM A CHEMICAL VIEWPOINT" published by the
Oregon Section, American Chemical Society, Vol. II No. 1, January 1945
"THE CHEMIST IS A BUM-econom-
ically speaking. Anyone reading the re-
port of the A.C.S. study on the economic
status of chemists will have to admit
that something is wrong-why are
chemists so terribly underpaid?- the
answer to that is easy to give-it's be-
cause they are undervalued.
"BUT WHY are they undervalued?
At the risk of having my throat slit and
losing my friends (if any), I'm going to
give my views. These probably won't
agree with yours-if not, why don't you
just sit down and write a memo that you
can bring to the next meeting for dis-
cussion. Certainly if the chemists don't
try to raise their status nobody else will
do it for them.
"WE HAVE TOO MANY chemists, or
rather we have too many who call them-
selves "chemists." This is because we
have no legal professional standing. We
have refused to set up a system of pro-
fessional control, such as licensing by a
state examining board, which would
serve to separate the competent chemists
from the less experienced. As it stands
today, anyone who can read can purchase
a book on chemistry and open up an
office with a big sign proclaiming him-
self as a chemist. Any school boy hired
by a laboratory as a dish washer can
immediately claim that he is a chemist.
As a result, the public associates the
word "chemist" with anyone who handles
a bottle or test tube. When a company
needs a bottle-washer, they advertise for
"HOW can the chemist ever develop a
professional standing when anyone can
legally say "I'm a chemist." The Public
has no protection. The public is not
wrong in saying "Bottle-washers are
chemists"-the chemists are wrong in
letting "technicians" call themselves
"chemists." Maybe a licensing arrange-
ment is not the right answer, it has
some drawbacks too, but at least SOME-
THING should be done to raise the
chemists level to that of a profession.
"I THINK the A.C.S. should have been
the leader in this-they have not. The
A.C.S. with 40,000 members and a low
valuation of chemists (see the A.C.S.
recommended wages) is rendering fine
lip-service to this cause, but they have
set their accrediting requirements so low
and membership requirements equally
low so that the A.C.S. is also loaded
with "technicians" recognized by the A.
C.S. as "chemists."
"NOW YOU CAN'T FOOL the em-
ployers by this ruse. When companies
continue to get men who say that the
A.C.S. recognizes them as "chemists" and
proceed to demonstrate that they are
just "technicians" what happens ? Why
the obvious thing-the fact that the A.
C.S. says a man is a chemist means that
the employers call their technicians
"chemists"-and from then on tech-
nicians are chemists and chemists are
technicians and that's exactly the situa-
tion today. The A.C.S., which has done so
much good otherwise, has failed to main-
tain the standards of a profession. To-
day chemistry is NOT a profession.
"BUT CHEMISTS ARE individuals,
they don't want to be herded into a union
in order to get a living wage-they want
to advance on a merit basis-not by
"seniority,"-yet all around them they
find unionism the way to get results.
Unless something is done chemists will
be unionized; when that happens chem-
istry will have lost its last chance to be-
come a profession.
"TO HAVE A PROFESSIONAL
CONSCIOUSNESS one must think and
act with pride in his profession. This
implies a knowledge of what his profes-
sion is. Such consciousness should be
developed in the schools, but here is
where chemical education fails.
"THE schools have followed too close-
ly to the "letter of the law," they have
quickly adapted the A.C.S. curricula and
have assumed that thereby they have
suddenly become endowed with the
ability to turn out chemists. They say
"we are accredited!"-"we have facili-
ties!"-"we have everything the A.C.S.
requires!" But how many schools can
also say-"and our teachers know to
develop a professional spirit"-and how
many teachers actually KNOW how
chemistry is used in industry-how many
schools teach the student HOW TO USE
his chemistry ?
"OUR CHEMISTRY DEPARTMENTS
are making the same mistake that other
departments make-we try to teach
chemistry as entirely remote from the
USE of chemistry. We have erected
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American Chemical Society. Dallas/Fort Worth Section. The Activator, Volume 1, Number 8, May 1945, periodical, May 1945; [Dallas, Texas]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc67672/m1/16/: accessed June 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .