Posts tagged ‘CSI effect’

Women In Forensic Science: Brains, Beauty and Personality

The scientist then

Look at us now

Amy, Forensic Chemist

Amy, Forensic Chemist

I’m out at a networking event and I’m asked what I do for a living and the inquirer response is  “you don’t look like a chemist” .  What is a female chemist supposed to look like?   The old fashion stereotype of a female scientist<———- was replaced with fashionable women scientists possessing brains, beauty and personality.  According to the Washington Times, women dominate the forensic science field and 75 percent of graduates from forensic science programs are women which has increased over the years.  For example, the forensic lab that I’m employed at has more women than men forensic chemist’s and that is just one of the many forensic science labs across the nation that are 60 percent female ( statistics from washington times).  So you may ask yourself, why are so many women gravitating to this field?  Well the girl scouts had a helping hand at sparking a young girls interest in science at an early age, crime writer Patricia Cornwell, best-selling author; main character is chief medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpertta and how could we forget the C.S.I portrayal of very attractive female scientists.  Women are also seen as detail oriented and would rather work for a less competitive atmosphere with stable hours to raise a family.  At the lab, the women scientists vary in age, race and dress and we are not all nerds that lack a social life.  We don’t wear pen protectors and glasses have been updated with contacts.  Our safety glasses are even cool looking and we dress to impress accented with a sharp pair of shoes and an italian leather pocketbook.  Women In Forensic Science Rule:-)

Me "The Sexy Scientist", Forensic Chemist

Stephanie, Forensic Chemist

Kandis, Forensic Chemist

Mary, Forensic Chemist

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So are you like C.S.I?

If I received a dollar for every time I was asked this question, I would be a millionaire.  I think it’s interesting that I have been a Forensic Chemist for nine years and I only watched this show twice and I can’t recall if it’s the C.S.I. New York, Vegas or Miami (there should be a C.S.I Philadelphia :-)) that I got a glimpse of.  Well unlike C.S.I,  Forensic results are not processed within minutes and most Forensic Scientists do not have any contact with the crime scene or the defendants.  This fictitious dramatization of the Forensic Science field on C.S.I ( Crime Scene Investigation), a show about solving crimes with physical evidence  gives a false depiction of what a Forensic Scientist really does and has the public as well as the media misinformed about real life Forensic Scientists.  I’m a Forensic Chemist, but I analyze controlled and non controlled substances in the lab under controlled  and uncontaminated conditions.  I don’t visit crime scenes and  the timeliness of the results depend on the type of case I’m analyzing.  I was talking to my friend and coworker and she said that on one C.S.I episode, the Forensic actor performed a color test on cocaine and concluded that it was cocaine.  This is false in Forensic  Chemistry because one cannot conclude any drug from a color test.  I can recall when I began my career in 2001 when Forensics was just getting popular due to the alleged mishandling of  the physical evidence from the OJ trial and the season premiere of C.S.I in 2000.  Nowadays, everybody and their mom is trying to attend school for Forensics because of C.S.I also known as the C.S.I effect.  I can’t blame people for believing whats on TV, so that’s why I’m here to educate you.  Oh and by the way,while I’m not a big C.S.I fan, I enjoy watching Law and Order SVU.  toodles:-)