Science: It’s a girl thing (or “How to patronise women and alienate your audience”)

My morning has begun with rage. This week the EU Commission launched a new campaign designed to encourage teenaged girls to go into science (apparently by breaking down stereotypes…) It’s called Science: It’s a girl thing. The campaign so far is basically a series of short, fairly-bland-but-inoffensive youtube clips introducing female scientists: a kind of ‘This is what a scientist looks like’ campaign, if you will, accompanied by various stats.

Overall it sounds like a well-meaning campaign that isn’t going to cost anyone much money, and might have a positive effect in making teenage girls see science as a valid career path for them. But hang on a second. There’s a PR machine behind this thing, which kicked off today. And it’s turning into a train crash.

 First up, why the three dots have they launched the campaign with a Facebook page that says:

“Cosmetics, fashion, music and so much more…”

Because that’s all girls are interested in. SERIOUSLY?! Are you actually KIDDING me?!

And then I saw the YouTube ‘Official Teaser’ and died inside.

Edit: Within 24 hours the original video was taken down… but the internet is a wonderful thing!

I’m offended as a scientist, that whoever thought this up thinks that fashion is more exciting on any level than medicine, engineering or food security. I’m offended as a woman that they think the only way to get girls into science is to trick them into thinking it’s all pink and fluffy! I’m offended as a European that somebody SPENT MONEY on this rubbish.

Whoever is responsible for this is gonna lose some skin, one way or another.


Edit: This beautiful Venn Diagram by James Monk (via Facebook) sums up my feelings perfectly:

23 responses to “Science: It’s a girl thing (or “How to patronise women and alienate your audience”)

  1. Pingback: SCIENCE! It’s a giggly, lipsticky, GIRLY thing! | MISSHALLELUJAH.NET

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  4. Some random person

    I’m glad you’re raging about this. Rage will certainly help dispell the notion that women are batshit insane.
    I was deeply offended that the MarySue was not raging with anger.
    Take a look at how she manages this event without rage:

    • I wasn’t aware that I was trying to convince anyone I was not batshit insane. I was too busy searching for my lipstick amongst my pipette tip boxes. But thank-you for the link anyway 🙂

  5. Says a lot, that the video is no longer available on YouTube.

  6. The response videos have already begun:

    It could have been such an amazing opportunity to really talk about women in science. Well, at least we’re talking…

  7. Pingback: Wetenschap, het is net mode « De Zesde Clan

  8. Here is a little conspiracy theory: If you wanted everyone to step up and fight for women how would you do? Like a three cushion billiards. Offend people on purpose so that they react.

    • Not buying it. Pretty much the entire female scientific population spends some time in some capacity trying to get more women into science. If they don’t then they’ll cite barriers like the fact that outreach isn’t seen as important and therefore they aren’t allowed the time to do it. I don’t know a single woman scientist who doesn’t think getting more girls into science is important. The scientific community didn’t need a wake up call, and this project didn’t need a stupid trailer.

  9. The scientific community didn’t need a wake up call, but what about the rest of us?
    I made me react, post on twitter, post a blog article talk with my collegues.
    Is it possible that those who made this crappy video hadn’t seen all this coming?

  10. Ah, I see what you mean. I think if that was the aim then it was misguided. And it seems unlikely given how various people have come out and said they were advising on the video and their advice was ignored, and given the track record of the company who produced the ad (Google: Bavarian Babes). But it’s an interesting idea.

  11. I felt the same way, bakingbiologist, I’m only sorry I didn’t see your post until I already ragefully posted my own. I have yet to talk with one female colleague in our department here in Canada that hasn’t been thoroughly insulted by this!

  12. Grumpyladywithasmile

    Well, I’m a scientist of the previous generation (or maybe the one before that) who had to fight hard to be taken seriously in anything scientific, and were actually advised to get ‘safe’ office jobs after leaving school in order to catch a man and settle down to family life..(Advice we thankfully ignored). This video is the pits. It insults women, it insults scientists. It puts me in mind of the early soft-porn Swedish movies on cable TV where a couple of girls would pretend to be cops, and at the first chance they’d whip off their clothes and run naked down the street with the burglar. It didn’t help police recruiting one bit !! 🙂

  13. I have a very clever 16 year old daughter. She loves science and is exceptionally good at it. She would laugh at the absurdity of this ad, because she has NO INTEREST WHATSOEVER in fashion & make up . She loves science because it interests her. I despair….

  14. Pingback: What to buy my geeky girlfriend? | bakingbiologist

  15. Pingback: #sciencegirlthing blogs | @RoyMeijer

  16. We are a group of students (male and female) who were as outraged as you so we decided to make our own video. You can watch it and vote for it (if you like it) here:

  17. Pingback: Round Up #4 | bakingbiologist

  18. Pingback: #sciencegirlthing blogs | RoyMeijer

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