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Science is a Girl Thing if it’s Pink and Sexxxy

Science is a Girl Thing if it’s Pink and Sexxxy

You know what girls like better than pink stuff and cosmetics? It’s being pandered to!

It’s fairly well known that women are underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers. Attempts to increase the involvement of women and girls in science and technology is something that should be lauded, but sometimes those attempts go so hilariously wrong that they do more harm than good. The European Commissions new campaign, Science: It’s a Girl Thing, edges just a little too far over into the latter category.

The teaser video for this campaign is truly appalling. The girls aren’t doing any science, with the added benefit of being leered at by a grown-ass man. Plus, lots of pink and make up! What more could a girl want?

Scientists and science-philes cried out protest. To the European Commission’s credit, they have taken down the video (the video linked above is a mirror), replaced it with an oh-so-much-better one, and have asked for some real women in science.

Good. It’s basically the least they could do.

Research matters

The European Commission responded so quickly to complaints that it’s almost unfair to bring attention to it. But it bears mentioning because of the lesson it teaches. The lesson being: do your research.

There is evidence to suggest that when girls are confronted with very feminine role models, they rate their interest in STEM lower than girls whose role models had more gender neutral traits. In addition, a 2002 study indicates that women who are exposed to gender stereotypes underperform on math tests. Nicole at Skepchick has a much better explanation of the science behind this and what it means.

Looks like the video could have very possibly had the opposite effect from that intended. Gold stars, European Commission.

However, just because this initial teaser was total crapola doesn’t mean that this campaign shouldn’t be promoted and applauded. Actually, the campaign features some really excellent profiles of women in science. I recommend you check them out and pass them around.

Science is awesome and you don’t need to be a particular gender to see it. I really want this effort to level the playing field to succeed.

Now, if they would just get rid of that ridiculous lipstick graphic.

Related posts:

Are Math and Science the Only Subjects Worth Studying?

Girls Can Do Math Just Fine, Thanks

The Myth of the “Girl Brain”

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Image credit: RDECOM

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61 comments

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1:52PM PDT on Aug 6, 2012

"I think some of the biggest sexists are some feminists themselves, hating feminine women and trying to make women more masculine. "

Madelaine, that's quite close-minded of you. I've never met a feminist that wanted to make women "more masculine".

Perhaps you don't understand the difference between "making" someone "more masculine" and making someone aware that it's okay to pursue the "more masculine" traits.

Being good at math is supposed to be "masculine". Being able to put things together is supposed to be "masculine". Being able to make your own decisions is supposed to be "masculine". The "feminine" traits are very poor (standing around, looking pretty - which is why "femininity" in men is ridiculed in a way "masculinity" in women isn't.) Are any of the above "masculine" traits really all that awful to aspire to?

Personally, I despise the feminine/masculine dichotomy. People - all people - should be able to act as they please without worrying if they're behaving "feminine" or "masculine" enough or "too feminine" or "too masculine".

And that's what this is about. Women have been told for centuries that science is too intense ("masculine") for them, and as a scientist, I can assure you this is still going on. This is designed to simply say, "hey. you can do this, too." A small counteractive message to all those, "your brain is simply incapable of this thinking!"

There is very little difference between the male and female brain. That is all the

6:54AM PDT on Jul 24, 2012

The first one was disgraceful. Seconnd one great improvement- yet the girl thing title needs to be got rid of.

11:19AM PDT on Jul 22, 2012

ty

5:08AM PDT on Jul 16, 2012

I think some of the biggest sexists are some feminists themselves, hating feminine women and trying to make women more masculine. We will only truly stop sexism if we can STOP stereotyping each other!

11:06PM PDT on Jun 26, 2012

It shouldn't matter if you're a girly girl or 'neutral'! Do what your passionate about - whether that's science or fashion it's ONLY up to that individual.

7:46PM PDT on Jun 26, 2012

I'm with Megan N. and Sharon H. I'm wondering, if like me, they had parents who supported them in anything they wanted to try, any kind of they toys they wanted to play with, and any kinds of friends (decent, though) that they wanted to have. Children will ignore the cultural pressure and be able to fight the peer stress if their parents start helping them to be themselves right from the time they are babies. Parents, get your act together and we'll have more women in everything. And women are not smarter than men, they just have a different perspective because they are estrogen fueled. Any good human behaviorist (male or female) will tell you that.

7:46PM PDT on Jun 26, 2012

I'm with Megan N. and Sharon H. I'm wondering, if like me, they had parents who supported them in anything they wanted to try, any kind of they toys they wanted to play with, and any kinds of friends (decent, though) that they wanted to have. Children will ignore the cultural pressure and be able to fight the peer stress if their parents start helping them to be themselves right from the time they are babies. Parents, get your act together and we'll have more women in everything. And women are not smarter than men, they just have a different perspective because they are estrogen fueled. Any good human behaviorist (male or female) will tell you that.

6:44PM PDT on Jun 26, 2012

I was on the "gender expert" group that provided recommendations to the EC as background for their work on the "Science: It's a girl thing!" campaign. Four of us from the group issued a statement today which on the one hand is clearly critical of the teaser video that has received so much attention (clearly, if you speak "diplomat" at least) and on the other hand tries to say that the issue of recruiting more women to science is so crucial and so important that the EC shouldn't get totally derailed by this snafu. Our statement was published at wp.me/p22Uc1-XC .

5:30PM PDT on Jun 26, 2012

oh good grief

4:41PM PDT on Jun 26, 2012

Thanks for the information.

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