Red Hen Science



The Little Red Hen read her paper again. Sure enough, there it was; ‘We need more women scientists, says Ministry’. Always ready to do her bit for society, the Little Red hen decided she would Do Some Science, so she went along to the local Job Centre. “I want to be a Scientist,” she told the dog behind the counter. “What subject do you have a degree in?” asked the dog, barely concealing a snigger. Hens doing science! Whatever next! When she confessed that she had no degree, but would get one as quick as a wink, the dog laughed out loud. “You? A female, doing science? Pull the other one!” he said rudely. She pecked the other one, hard, and then pecked the first one, and left him howling. 

Down she went to the University to get a degree. The old gander in charge welcomed her with open wings. “Lovely to see you,” he said, “of course you can do science! What kind of science would you like?” The Little Red Hen asked about quarks, because she liked the word. “My dear, that’s Atomic Physics, an admirable choice if I may say so, we have plenty of vacancies on that course!”

“But will there be a useful job when I finish, where I can be helpful to The Community, as our government wants?” asked The Little Red Hen. “Naturally, my dear, any woman qualified in Science will be snapped up,” cooed the old gander.

So she studied Atomic Physics for what seemed like ages, until her poor head hurt, but she kept on trying, remembering how useful she would be. Finally, she got a First and went to the Job Centre. The dog had been replaced by a cat, who said, “There aren’t any jobs here for someone as qualified as you, try at the Atomic Plant down the road.” So off she went.

The fox in charge of the Atomic Plant welcomed her in with a wide false smile. “Come in, liitle lady, we have plenty of vacancies for one as pretty as you,” he oiled. “What qualifications have you? Typing and shorthand, eh?” “I have a First in Atomic Physics,” said The Little Red Hen. The fox’s face fell; “We have no vacancies of that kind,” he said frostily. “I was told you would snap me up,” said The Little Red Hen. “Oh, yes, I could certainly do that,” said the fox, his mouth watering. She backed away from him and went back to the cat at the Job Centre.

“They don’t have any work for me there,” she said, “Is there anything else?” The cat looked up in its list and said, “You need a degree in computers and maths to get a job in Science, really. And Biochemistry would come in handy, too.” 

So the Little Red Hen sweated away and got a Masters degree in Computers, and a Doctorate in Biochemistry. She went back to the Job Centre, where the cat remembered her. “Well done, let’s see what we have. Ah, yes, drug research,” said the cat. Off she went to the huge drug company down the road. 

A white rat showed her round the labs. Whilst there, she talked to some white mice. “The jobs are interesting, but the pay is awful,” they said. “You have to be really dedicated to work here for peanuts.” The white rat came back and offered her a job, leading  research into salmonella in eggs for £800 a year. “Awfully sorry, can’t offer you more money, no-one wants to pay scientists,” he said, covering the holes in his lab-coat with his whiskers.

“Oh, sod it,” said the Little Red Hen. “Why did I bother? I’ll get back to community accountancy and baking bread.” MORAL If you must read newspapers for career advice, turn to the job adverts and ignore what politicians say.