Shocking EU Video… Science, It’s a Girl Thing

Shocking EU Video... Science, It’s a Girl Thing

We want you to watch a video funded by the EU encouraging girls to take up science. Savour its stereotype enforcing bullshit. Then go to YouTube and dislike it immediately.

Okay. Deep breath. You’re about to watch something really bad. So bad you’ll think at first it’s a parody. Then you’ll want to scream.



Now you’re probably thinking: What did I just watch?

You watched three young women do a bit of a catwalk and catch the attention of a hot science guy. They weren’t doing any science, or anything. They were just, you know, being sultry and fashiony. Then they dropped all their makeup, and it was interspersed with some vague iconic images relating to science. It all happened so fast, the girls may well have believed that in sauntering about and dropping their make-up bag they were totally doing some science.

Ways in which this video FAILS.

  1. Women can only apply themselves to science if they relate it to their daily lives. It goes without saying that their daily lives are an endless diorama of cascading eyeshadow powder and lipstick.
  2. All women are femmes. To be female is to be stereotypically feminine in physique and attire: gamine faces, long legs, high heels, short skirts.
  3. The best way to encourage a girl to do science is to reveal that hot scientist boys will take notice of her. It’s all down to superdupersexytimes. Yet again.
  4. The best way to get involved in science, apparently, is to do an impromptu fashion show, give a bit of duckface and not actually get involved with it in any way.
  5. Poor science is maligned as much as women in this video. Science is, apparently, a mad laboratory full of test tubes and smoking cylinders and equations that you will never understand because you’re a girl, but if these science things are shot right they might look almost as pretty as lipstick.
  6. This video is a real campaign funded with real money that could have gone towards other really important stuff. This is money spunked up the wall.
  7. In fact, let’s face it. As @bengoldacre says, Tim Minchin has turned more young people onto science than any number of schlocky govt campaigns.

So what the hell just happened?

Hydrogen and squirmy lady-writhing: It’s the same thing. Photo: Getty Images via The New Statesman

“We want to overturn clichés and show women and girls, and boys too, that science is not about old men in white coats,” said Geoghegan-Quinn, European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner while speaking at the European Parliament in Brussels yesterday. She explained that this video is a taster for an EU-funded campaign to get more girls engaged with science; this campaign will cover 27 states for the next three years. We hope the campaign itself is not ill-advised, but the taster video certainly is.

There are plenty of girls interested in science already who would probably appreciate support in the form of more ground-roots encouragement, more education about the options open to them, greater opportunities for experience in the field, and a look at pay rates.

There are plenty of girls who might be interested in science if they were encouraged to find a way to break social conditioning. Perhaps a video taster encouraging them to relate to science will help. Perhaps it could feature them actually doing some science. Or you could have a campaign of actual female scientists speaking for two minutes each about what got them into their career and why they love doing it and what barriers they faced and how they overcame them. *

Yep. Instead of this disease of an ad, have one that’s well put together and says something about science. Show all the wonderful things science does with real women behind the test tube/microscope/in the laboratory – curvy women, butch women, fat women, women of all races and backgrounds and sizes, with and without makeup. Show what they can do for humanity. Show how human and smart they are. Have them tell stories. This ad teaches us nothing.

What they’re saying about the Science: It’s a Girl Thing video on the Mookychick forum and Facebook group:

  • I have a friend who is a transgender scientist working as an engineer. Their head would explode.
  • Oh gosh, if that’s all I needed to do to get into science I have wasted all that time I spent on my Bachelor’s degree.
  • I just can’t stop thinking that those shoes are completely inappropriate for the lab…
  • I’m so tired of the whole femme = female and vice versa *facepalms*. No. Just no.
  • What science is out there to help me remove what I’ve just seen?
  • Oh dear god…who thought this was a good idea? I hate this notion that women can’t be interested in science because they want to cure cancer or Parkinsons, as my friends would say – according to this, they only want to be scientists because it involves makeup. Pathetic.
  • Sexualisation of science… Why not, it works for selling toys to kids and pretty much every other target group on the planet…
  • If you go to their FB page, there appears to be a better attempt to have actual scientists talking about why they think science is a worthwhile subject to study. It’s a pity, because this campaign could be really important and significant, giving people advice and options, but if that video is emblematic of their advertising, it’s going to be totally counter-productive.

In all… Money wasted. Lots of people not very impressed. We suggest the EU takes a good long look at this campaign, drops the taster video and has a bit of a rethink about what they’re hoping to achieve with “Science: It’s a Girl Thing” and how best to do it. They’ve already spent the money on this taster. Let’s hope the rest of the campaign’s budget is put to better use…

* Weirdly enough, when we got to the Science: It’s a Girl Thing Facebook page, they had pretty much just that. But now their cool videos are being overshadowed by this… thing. A real shame.

Still from the video.