“Science: It’s a Girl Thing!” OMG, Seriously?! The Botched Video by the EU

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 .

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Comments (5)
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  • Wrong on so many lev­els. The title should be “Sci­ence, it’s Atom­ic Kit­ten” …

  • This is per­haps the worst way to encour­age girls into STEM — it plays on the most obvi­ous stereo­types.
    The irony? The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion­er who defend­ed it is a woman.

  • curtrice says:

    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 .

  • pete says:

    bet­ter yet, show actu­al women sci­en­tists and engi­neers inter­viewed on video as SPIE, the inter­na­tion­al soci­ety for optics and pho­ton­ics, has done here: spie.org/x84512.xml

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