Science: It's a girl thing. Excuse me while I die inside.

Yet another well-meaning yet soul-crushingly misdirected initiative from the public purse, this time as the European Commission engages in a cack-handed attempt to convince the high-heeled, lipstick stained people they've conflated with women in general that science is a Girl Thing.   It seems to assume that it's impossible for women to be interested in chemistry unless it's in the context of cosmetics, or biology except insomuch as fashion.  If you can stomach it, here's a the video in all its garish horror -  Science: It's a girl thing (now removed in shame by the makers - mirror below). It's a stunning indictment of the people behind the program.

I can only wonder how much money was spent on this.  The UK's foray into similar territory, "Science: So What? So Everything!" burned through a cool two million or so; but I can't complain as some of that went into my pocket in a late attempt to push the project back onto the rails of public engagement rather than public relations.  And so, if there is a silver lining here, it's that someone, somewhere, is making budgets available for this kind of thing, and they might be convinced (probably not by snarky articles and twattish posturing to other nerds, by the way), to spend their next bag of cash on a project that is more sympathetic to women,  to science, and to the range of issues far beyond image that keep the former out of the latter.  I implore you to engage earnestly and fruitfully with the European Commission to make sure the next project like this isn't lipstick activism.



Women in Research and Innovation: launch event – Press release and media briefing

Dear journalist,

As announced a few weeks ago, the European Commission’s new campaign “Women in Research and Innovation” is being officially launched today at 14:30 at the European Parliament in Brussels.

Enclosed you will find the press release and the media briefing in which you will find all the information related to the launch event as well as information on the campaign and the situation of European girls and women in science studies and careers.

Several of the campaign’s role models will be present at the event and are available for interviews and photos (more details in the document annexed). Throughout the campaign, these inspiring women scientists will transmit their passion for science to girls, either online through their video profile, or during 'Science Cafés' with schools where they will talk about their careers and the opportunities science offers. Here is a sneak preview; the story of Ilaria Capua, a Veterinary virologist at the IZSVe Padova:

Today is the first day of a 2 years long campaign which will start first in Belgium, Austria, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland. Stay tuned for more information about the field activities to take place over the following weeks and months!

Join us on the Esplanade of the European Parliament from 12:00 to 17:30 to see young people enjoying fun science activities and taking part in the closing flashmob "Chain reaction' at 17:15!

In case you’re not attending the event in Brussels, you can follow the launch conference live via our web stream from 14:30 to 16:00:

Feel free to contact us after the launch event to get more information and photos.

Best regards,

The Women in Research and Innovation campaign team (from Tipik, contractor to the European Commission)




More like this

I'm just checking it out (and I've linked here with a blogpost) myself - the video on Iris the physics student is at least marginally more relevant that 'let's go shopping' with the virologist!

By Kylie Sturgess (not verified) on 22 Jun 2012 #permalink

In the US, I tell people that if she can vote, she's not a girl. (That's 18, for the rest of the world)

And, no, the opposite of 'guy' isn't 'girl'. It's 'gal.' 'Girl' isn't informal. It's demeaning.

By Katie Cunningham (not verified) on 22 Jun 2012 #permalink

If I have this right - this looks like a campaign aimed at girls (ie. young women in schools) and the actual videos of role models (rather than the teaser/advert) do seem to me to be quite inspiring role models? or am I missing something .........I am going to survey my daughters to get their opinion

By Jim Loftus (not verified) on 22 Jun 2012 #permalink


As a girl, if someone thought that my 'role models' were based exclusively on how cute their clothes were or how narrow their waists, I would have been insulted.

Oh, girls are so superficial, all they care about is how PRETTY something is! We have to trick them into caring about substance!

By Katie Cunningham (not verified) on 22 Jun 2012 #permalink

There's strong evidence that it's an alien concept to Scienceblogs, but I think it's called "irony". Creatives do it a lot. it helps sell stuff.

In any event, it's a lot tamer than some of the publicity shots Carol Vorderman did in the 1980's.....

And Ms Cunningham, please remember that it's a European intiative. In most European countries, it's considered courteous to call someone a "girl" (in the local language, of course) until at least her 100th birthday.

By Ian Kemmish (not verified) on 22 Jun 2012 #permalink

Science: it's a thing. But not a gender-related thing.

You mean that isn't an advert for a new Girl Group?

European woman here. I don't consider infantilization a courtesy. And I don't consider men telling me what constitutes courteous behaviour towards me very courteous.

By Pavlov's Cat (not verified) on 22 Jun 2012 #permalink

That was the most stupid video I have ever seen! Did it even show any of these young ladies doing science? No, and it reminded me of the 1980s movie "Weird Science." This video would turn any scientifically minded female off.

By Kathy Vernacchio (not verified) on 22 Jun 2012 #permalink

After watching that video ALL OF THE SUDDEN I'm really "interested" in science.

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...

I don't mind well dressed female scientists, although being watched by a guy in a lab coat with horn rimmed glasses and a serious expression would be a little creepy, if it weren't so hokey. There wasn't enough science substance to appeal to me. It could just as easily been ______, it's a girl thing.

By Lithezebra (not verified) on 24 Jun 2012 #permalink

Let me point you to another EU funded project called TWIST - Towards Women In Science & Technology. Our attitude is completely different.

Science museums all over Europe (and us in the Middle East) run many kinds of activities.

For example, see this report about our activity with Twisty - the virtual puppet discussing science and gender with women from the Arab sector from East Jerusalem - a very conservative population.

By Hanan Cohen (not verified) on 24 Jun 2012 #permalink