STEM skills and job success- not what you may think


Hmm. I must’ve run across a number of the ones you missed. :slight_smile: Perhaps they were bad because they didn’t want to put in the effort to be good teachers. Or they were simply deficient due to social disabilities.

(Peaceful Science) #42

In context, =), I’m talking about teaching in a very narrow way (which does not include classroom teaching), and I’m talking about successful scientists, not all scientists.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #43

I don’t think success as a scientist and success as a teacher necessarily run together – at least not if science is like other disciplines which I suspect it is. Brilliant mathematicians do not always make for great teachers. E.g. probably nobody disputes that Frederick Gauss was brilliant; but he was a lousy teacher – even to other young and aspiring geniuses (such as Reimann, if I’m remembering one of his would-be pupils correctly). I may be wrong about that but I do remember reading that Gauss wasn’t willing to give credit or much any other encouragement even to other rising stars that we now also recognize as brilliant. Lost opportunities, but people can’t be expected to be good at everything I don’t suppose.

Later edit: I should have double checked on Gauss before speaking ill of him … Riemann was among those who would see benefit and praise from Gauss --so I was wrong about that. Apparently it was more that Gauss disliked teaching. I can’t find what I had read that gave me a different impression.


Well, I’ve seen well recognized, successful scientists who couldn’t lead labs or mentor to save their lives. Some people simply aren’t balanced and perform best left by themselves.

(Phil) #45

May be something to the old joke, then. In med school, had contact with 3 Nobel laureates, they were OK teachers, but the very best teachers seldom got a lot published. It is tough to be outstanding in everything.

(Don Huebner) #46

Sorry I am late to the party. However, I am not surprised at all about the Google study results as I suspect the large majority of Google STEM employees are H1B visa folks - meaning they are foreign born. As someone who spent most of my career in industry, and a reasonable amount in academia, I would argue that they are much less skilled in the 7 qualities of success than native born STEM employees. The cultural difference along with the way they were raised as children is much different than in the U.S. This was clearly apparent to me as a college instructor who had both types of students in class. In my specialty area of engineering electromagnetics, the main qualities for success in industry are being smart, creative, having gone to a top college - and being comfortable with the cultural environment. . I would estimate anyone who has those factors is smart enough to have observed and absorbed the Google qualities for success. The last of these factors is a stumbling block for many, but certainly not all, foreign born engineers/physicists.

I would also add that those who have those qualities will also be curious enough as adults to learn about humanities and social sciences. In my own case, I have learned enough to have made original contributions (but never bothered to publish) in history, geography, and OT studies. In fact, I have at least several hundred books in my personal library on religious and biblical studies, along with theology and philosophy.

Like it or not, I believe that the smartest students are attracted to the intellectual challenge of STEM majors. They are also the most likely ones to be good at critical thinking and complex reasoning. This is not meant to denigrate other areas of study - but if I am involved in determining the solution to a complex engineering problem, I want to have people like me on the team. Diversity, as much as it is touted, cannot be blindly applied. Cheers.


May I suggest two resources I’ve used with my Math students, and with good interest from them:

  1. is part of the large program carried forward by Stanford prof. J. Boaler. There are many useful resources that mainly aim at enriching deep thinking in Math rather than surface rote repetition
  2. a great collection of engaging problems in Math and Science. Most of them are definitely not routine based, so a students has to engage in beautiful intellectual challenges

There are a few other great resources I could suggest, lust let me know.

Generally, I agree with the uneasiness some of you pointed out. STEM has become as more or less a buzzword as “creative thinking” or “social-emotional learning”. That’s ok with pursuing these goals, as long as they’re not just the wrap up of something as old as always.

I mean you can do some great intellectual exercise with just a sheet of paper:
Or something really rote and low-level like some current programming courses where they just ask you to fill the blank with some code, while you don’t even have to think a the bigger picture, the algorithm involved, the Math behind the code or else.

Hope this helps and contributes to the conversation.

(Christy Hemphill) #48

Thanks so much for the suggestions. I’m excited to check them out.