In a recent speech, to the Royal Society in Oxford, Tony Blair proclaimed "We need our scientists today to be as celebrated and famous as our sportsmen and women, our actors, our business entrepreneurs. Scientists are 'stars' too."
The culture of suggesting people aspire to 'stardom' as an aim and mark of success is ill-founded. Roll-models are important to inspire people to recognise the merit of achievement in all constructive walks of life, but setting 'stardom' as a goal will, by it's very nature, preclude the majority from reaching the supposed pinnacle.
If we want the majority to be successful we must set attainable goals they want to reach. The role and function of scientists and engineers is more important than can be portrayed by the public notoriety of the very few. People know the opportunity for achieving fame is a remote prospect and it is not a motivating factor - logic will predict it's unlikely occurrence.
It would be more inspiring to take the example of normal people excelling at their profession, showing what they do, where their professions have taken them in their lives and explaining the motivation and rewards they enjoy from their endeavours. This will be a scenario a young scientific mind will be able to logically relate to and can portray the prospective outcome of their endeavours should they take the time, effort and expense to enter such a career.
Does the government believe that it's love of celebrity figureheads is the answer to popularising careers in the sciences or do they respect the danger of framing career success within such irrelevant terms ?