Even more than in the U.S., women in Europe lag behind men in the science and engineering professions, accounting for barely a third of science researchers. Understandably concerned about the gender gap, European Union officials launched a campaign targeting girls between the ages of 13 and 17. Their message: Science is cool. Girls can do it and make a difference in the world.
So far, so good. Unfortunately, the resulting video “Science: It’s a Girl Thing” is about as on point as a Spice Girls video.
The first clue is the lipstick i in Science. Three vamps are silhouetted Charlie’s Angels-style as dance music pulses away. A young man in glasses gazes over his microscope in curiosity as each girl tosses her curls or shows her perfect foot in a high heel.
Science? Yay! Let’s shop!
One hot babe does indeed take some time to write formulas willy-nilly on some plexiglass while others giggle between shots of beakers, rouge and exploding eye shadow.
When my 13 year old daughter watched the video, she thought it was an ad for a cosmetics company.
The European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn defends the video as a way to “show girls and women that science does not just mean old men in white coats.” No, it means a young man in a white coat who seems to wonder what the three ditzy dames are doing in his lab. The video has generated so much criticism that the E.U. has pulled it off the Science: It’s a Girl Thing website and replaced it with an interview with a young Polish woman working on her PhD in virology.
This video is much better. But what’s with the silly cutaways to frozen yogurt?
Kate Rix is an Oakland-based freelance writer. Check out more of her work at katerixwriter.com.