Thursday, June 28, 2012

Don't forget your heels the next time you head to the lab

Last Thursday, the EU Commission released a promotional video entitled “Science: It’s a Girl’s Thing!” in attempt to draw more young women into scientific fields.  Due to overwhelming negative responses, it was removed within 48 hours. 

Here's the video:

I was dumbfounded after watching this.  How did anyone expect this ad to be a success? I can quickly categorize my frustration:

Portrayal of Women (in Science)
What female scientists trot around in high heels and miniskirts?  Ever heard of close-toed shoes in the lab?   I agree that there should be more of an effort made to encourage young women to become interested in science, but illustrating this with models in makeup  just emphasizes an already prominent gender line in many areas of science.  Where's the gender equality when you need it? This video didn't need to endorse gender stereotypes, and yet it delved into the worst ones.  Also, with the exception of a model writing an equation, there was no involvement of women actually doing science in this video. 

Portrayal of Science
I know, I know, people think science, they think "microscopes, beakers, oh boy!" (wordplay intended), but why is the European Commission endorsing this?  Science is so much more -- let's advertise this!  I would have loved to see science portrayed as the pursuit of curiosity and discovery and critical thinking.  

When it comes down to it, I'm upset mostly about the fact that the European Commission thought this was a well-crafted and successful ad.  Kudos for taking it down so quickly.

An interesting article written by Elizabeth Newton on Astrobites (and links to other articles on the topic) can be found here.

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