Science isn’t Pink!

The heading from the EU commission website.

I “overheard” a discussion on Twitter today about a video on a website run by the European Commission: Research & Innovation titled Science: It’s a girl thing! Click “Watch the teaser” to see the video – and let’s drop the topic of the usage of “teaser” here because … it will be obvious why … anyway

Sure, science is a girl thing, it’s an everybody thing, It is also true that science needs more women. I’m working on a blogpost about this topic that I’ll finish this weekend. I’ve been away the last week and a half and have had little time to blog.

So yeah, women in science. The Skepchick post about this video by Nicole refers to some statistics on women in science and technology, you should read that post too. Stereotyping is already hurting women in science careers, this video doesn’t help, in fact it makes it worse.

I made a comment on Skepchick in that comment thread, so I am just going to repost that here:

Yeah, my first thought was: Great, they’re promoting science to girls. But then I saw the video after Elyse discussed it on Twitter …

I mean, I still think it’s a great idea (the initiative), but this is not how we want science promoted to young girls. Is it a profession where you excel by making yourself look pretty to older men? Where you wear heels in a lab like you’re on House MD (all women on House walk around in heels if you hadn’t noticed)?

I mean, I’m all for femininity, and it should be perfectly OK to be a feminine scientist. But that is not what being a woman in science is about. It’s not like it’s a super masculine environment either with muscle and sweat. It’s people of all types doing things they love. What needs to be communicated is how awesome it is to work with something you’re deeply interested in figuring out. There is nothing gendered about that. How you present your gender is of no importance one way or the other.

I also made the point that they may be attempting to overcome the stereotype that feminine women are dumb and therefore cannot do science. That is also perfectly OK, but if that is what they are trying, they failed pretty horribly at it.

Related links:

More updates. The EU Commision posted this on Twitter a little while ago:

The list is here: EU_Commission/realwomeninscience

Here’s an example of what the video should have been like:

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Comments

  1. Rebecca says:

    “What needs to be communicated is how awesome it is to work with something you’re deeply interested in figuring out. There is nothing gendered about that.”

    Indeed. Sentiment of video = great, execution = not so great. It’s trying to empower “girl science” within a very narrow and typical framework of femininity, rather than empowering science as an “everybody” thing as you mentioned, but also as an area where all types of women are welcome. Attempts at “girl science” often sadly fall into that trap x[

    Also, I’m not very good at articulating myself tonight, but I’m getting seriously bored of this cheeky-style “girls vs boys! yeah!” theme that crops up everywhere in advertising. And that video, with the strong (read: sexy) girls vs the seemingly befuddled man seemed to touch on that in a similar way.

    1. Veronica says:

      As we’ve seen in the marketing of toys, and recently especially by Lego, marketing is getting more and more gendered and play more and more on stereotypes. I think consumers in general should start boycotting products that use unwanted marketing. I have very little respect left for the advertising industry as a whole.

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