Freeman Dyson, the extraordinary physics and mathematics mind, never got a PhD. Nor did he want one. "It’s completely inappropriate for what most people need," he said in a recent interview. "It was designed for German academics in the 19th century and it was fine for that. But for any other kind of life, it’s totally wrong. It takes far too long. It forces you to pretend to be a researcher when most people don’t want to be researchers. It’s become a union card and I think it’s highly disruptive, particularly bad for women. For women to waste five or 10 years of their lives is more of a disaster than it is for men."