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Science: It's a Girl Thing!
June 22, 2012 5:43 AM   Subscribe

An EU campaign called Science: It's a Girl Thing! has released a promotional video that has not gone over well.

The campaign has also produced a number of profile videos of female scientists which have been better received.
posted by alby (102 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Meanwhile, down here at the base camp, we're trying to empower our female population through sports (YT). Because sports have done so much for us and we are eternally grateful to them.
posted by jsavimbi at 5:47 AM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think they meant "Science: It's a Runway Model Thing".
posted by mondo dentro at 5:55 AM on June 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


I wasn't sure where the reaction was going to come from, so I clicked the link and after the first three seconds of skinny model-figure sillhouttes, I understood. And My God.
posted by Think_Long at 5:55 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Want to save lives? Keen to find out what's lurking in the nether regions....
posted by ennui.bz at 5:57 AM on June 22, 2012


Wow, it's like a live-action version of a Simpsons sketch that never was.
posted by inkfish at 6:00 AM on June 22, 2012 [13 favorites]


Hey now, I heard that there are chemicals in lipstick, and girls just love lipstick, amirite?

Maybe they're making an instructional video on how not to attempt to interest women in science, and just forgot to label it properly? Or accidentally uploaded the joke "how badly can we do this" video? Because this is pretty stunningly awful. Almost unbelievably awful. How do people this clueless get put in charge of making anything?
posted by Dr.Enormous at 6:00 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh dear.

To address the video, putting images of attractive women in between images of science is ... well, basically booth babe-ing it. With the exception of the one drawing random letters on a board, none of them was actually DOING any science. So they kind of missed the boat here.

But there are probably four demographics of girls they are dealing with.
(1) those who are already interested in science, and know it
(2) those who are not very girly, are sort of interested but need some confidence builders that girls can do this too
(3) those who are very girly, are sort of interested but in addition to the confidence builders, need some reassurance that it's still "cool" to be into it and still be girly
(4) those who will never be convinced that science is for them, for whatever reason, and that's okay!

Each of these groups is equally valid. However, members of groups A and B without fail immediately denigrate anything targeted toward group C, and that's sad to me. There's a happy medium between "All STEM outreach targeted toward girls must involve high heels and short skirts" and "No STEM outreach targeted toward girls may involved high heels or short skirts" and those of us in groups A and B, regardless of our own personal expression of femininity, need to be okay with finding that medium and embracing it.

This video is not by any means that medium. It's definitely far on the "All outreach must involve stick thin models" side of the spectrum. But I worry that the lesson of this video, for those who produced it and for those who will learn from it for their own outreach efforts, is that emphasizing feminine = bad. And it is a really important message that girls who may be interested in these fields don't have to clear their wardrobes and start wearing cargo pants, Tevas, and free developers conference tshirts. They don't have to dress like they're working for Vogue, either, but if they want to, that's okay! We're doing a poor job of managing that.

I'm an engineer and proud geek and went from jeans and hoodies to trousers, heels, and blouses with appropriate jewelry after a manager sat me down and told me I needed to dress more professionally for the job I was doing. A senior engineer I was friends with scoffed one day and said "How can you be our cool geek girl engineer if you're wearing pearls?" Engineering and other STEM fields still have a stereotype problem, it's just moved from "poorly dressed geeky guy" to "poorly dressed geeky guys and girls" and that's not doing the field any favors either.
posted by olinerd at 6:02 AM on June 22, 2012 [36 favorites]


I feel like it's a commercial that is trying to sell makeup to geeky/nerdy girls..
posted by royalsong at 6:05 AM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


That video is a parody come to life
posted by maryr at 6:06 AM on June 22, 2012


(In fairness to the genders, the male model at the microscope is really equally ridiculous to everything else.)
posted by maryr at 6:07 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I saw a link to this in my Twitter feed while heading home on the bus just now. Out of almost all context, I thought this was an ad for a brand of lipstick called "Science".

It could happen.
posted by dumbland at 6:08 AM on June 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


Science: it's for you, sugartits!
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:09 AM on June 22, 2012 [24 favorites]


Metafilter: It's for you, sugartits!
posted by alby at 6:11 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seriously? Seriously??
posted by hepta at 6:14 AM on June 22, 2012


Folks, it's just a teaser video! It doesn't get to the part where the door is kicked in by the Real Women of Science! who march over, smack the chalk out of the model's hand in order to correct her math, make the other model put on proper attire for conducting chemical reactions, and make passionate whoopie with the DudeFloozy at the microscope.

When they are done, the Real Women of Science! then explode the fake lab (because explosions are cool regardless of gender) and get back to work on their zeppelin.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:14 AM on June 22, 2012 [29 favorites]


Chris Morris, you have excelled yourself this time. But how did you get the EU to pay for the trailer?
posted by jaduncan at 6:16 AM on June 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


See also Science Cheerleaders.
posted by scratch at 6:27 AM on June 22, 2012


It's like their research into What Girls Like was conducted entirely through Cosmo ads. I suppose it could have been worse...
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:28 AM on June 22, 2012


See also Science Cheerleaders.

See, I'm okay with that. They serve my Group C (or Group 3 as I apparently wrote, I have a real problem with number 1, number B, etc) in a very fair way: yes, we're girly and we embrace it, and yes, we're scientists and embrace it.

It certainly wouldn't have worked for me in high school, but if it would have worked for even just one of my classmates, then that's important.
posted by olinerd at 6:32 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I really wish I could unsee that. And un-learn that it exists. Why does the brain not come with a NOPE button to make terrible, rage-inducing things go away? It would be so much less painful than bashing my head repeatedly against the wall.

I don't even know if I'm more insulted on behalf of women, or scientists, or women scientists. (Or as a EU citizen, since that means that somewhere along the line I helped pay for this. Oh god the shame.)
posted by harujion at 6:33 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is effectively impossible to parody. Seriously, I cannot imagine a piece of it that could be more OTT.
posted by jaduncan at 6:37 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seeing Feynman in the Related Posts down below, I'm reminded of how much he hated it when a magazine or whatever was doing a profile article and asked him for a photo of him playing the bongos to 'show the human side of the professor'. His point being: what's more human than doing theoretical physics? Can you think of any other animal that can work out fundamental equations of how the universe works? Computers can't do it either; they're useful analytical tools but can't come up with anything on their own.

Same point here. Science isn't a girl thing, and it shouldn't be a guy thing either. It's a people thing.
posted by echo target at 6:39 AM on June 22, 2012 [13 favorites]


Folks, it's just a teaser video! It doesn't get to the part where the door is kicked in by the Real Women of Science! who march over, smack the chalk out of the model's hand in order to correct her math, make the other model put on proper attire for conducting chemical reactions, and make passionate whoopie with the DudeFloozy at the microscope.

When they are done, the Real Women of Science! then explode the fake lab (because explosions are cool regardless of gender) and get back to work on their zeppelin.


Can we get this drawn up by Kate Beaton?
posted by mrgoat at 6:40 AM on June 22, 2012 [15 favorites]


Next week in The Apprentice: the team are disastrously commissioned by the EU to front their women in science campaign.
posted by jaduncan at 6:43 AM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Europe is so backwards it's funny.
posted by Cyclopsis Raptor at 6:44 AM on June 22, 2012


robocop is bleeding: "Folks, it's just a teaser video! It doesn't get to the part where the door is kicked in by the Real Women of Science! who march over, smack the chalk out of the model's hand in order to correct her math, make the other model put on proper attire for conducting chemical reactions, and make passionate whoopie with the DudeFloozy at the microscope.

When they are done, the Real Women of Science! then explode the fake lab (because explosions are cool regardless of gender) and get back to work on their zeppelin.
"

I would watch this movie.
posted by that's candlepin at 6:50 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


My first thought: WHY ARE THOSE GIRLS WEARING OPEN-TOED SHOES IN A LAB?

Ugh, I hate this.
posted by sc114 at 6:50 AM on June 22, 2012 [11 favorites]


Beyond the ridiculous imagery, what were they hoping to accomplish with the giggling in the soundtrack? If Science! is fun the scientists should be laughing in amazement at their power and new knowledge. But giggling itself is diminutive, has negative connotations and shows how much to NOT take Science! Seriously.
posted by saucysault at 6:52 AM on June 22, 2012


Can we get this drawn up by Kate Beaton?

STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS: Now with lab coats and even! more! explosions!

I would definitely watch the hell out of this strip and/or movie.
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:55 AM on June 22, 2012


(In fairness to the genders, the male model at the microscope is really equally ridiculous to everything else.)

I had to watch it again just to make sure that wasn't Jeff Goldblum.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:56 AM on June 22, 2012


The weird thing is that the other videos produced for this exact same campaign are much better. I don't wonder how this got made (by an agency, I'm sure), but how it got greenlit. Was no-one at the client involved in making this video?
posted by atrazine at 6:56 AM on June 22, 2012


maryr: (In fairness to the genders, the male model at the microscope is really equally ridiculous to everything else.)

They could have just used Brian Cox. He's as dreamy as any model, and he talks physics in a soothing voice.
posted by gilrain at 7:02 AM on June 22, 2012


alby: "The campaign has also produced a number of profile videos of female scientists which have been better received."

Which were a lot more respectful. This video seems like a major misstep. I hope they go back to creating profiles.

I noticed the open-toed shoes too. :P
posted by zarq at 7:05 AM on June 22, 2012


(by an agency, I'm sure)

Correct. It was made by Tipik.
posted by alby at 7:07 AM on June 22, 2012


robocop is bleeding: "Folks, it's just a teaser video! It doesn't get to the part where the door is kicked in by the Real Women of Science! who march over, smack the chalk out of the model's hand in order to correct her math, make the other model put on proper attire for conducting chemical reactions, and make passionate whoopie with the DudeFloozy at the microscope.

When they are done, the Real Women of Science! then explode the fake lab (because explosions are cool regardless of gender) and get back to work on their zeppelin.
"

that's candlepin: "I would watch this movie."

Screenplay by Joe Eszterhas. Directed by Michael Bay?
posted by zarq at 7:07 AM on June 22, 2012


Yeah, that Science Cheerleaders thing was great because it was REAL scientists doing REAL science who were also cheerleaders/stereotypically feminine. I also appreciated it because it awoke me to some really uncomfortable prejudices I didn't realize I had (I assumed all the cheerleader scientists were going to be medical transcriptionists or something and I'm really ashamed of that). This is women not even actually participating in fake science. All it does is help create prejudices. Women USE science for their makeup but they stay firmly on this side of the microscope!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:12 AM on June 22, 2012


It's amusing to imagine the bureaucrats who thought up this idea.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:14 AM on June 22, 2012


"Science!" (It's a Thomas Dolby thing).
posted by obscurator at 7:15 AM on June 22, 2012


Screenplay by Joe Eszterhas. Directed by Michael Bay?

Neither of them have the imagination to let women kick butt.

This reminds me of Chess for Girls.
posted by emjaybee at 7:24 AM on June 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Couldn't they have tapped the LFHCfS?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:34 AM on June 22, 2012


open-toed shoes

Long, long ago, when I was in high school, I spent a summer interning at a natural product chemistry lab. I found the work fascinating, and would often show up an hour early, turning the lights on, going over my notes, and making sure all the glassware was set up before anyone came in.

One day, I forgot to wear closed-toe shoes. I didn't end up breaking a beaker and stepping in glass, or spilling some kind of pungent solvent on my toes, because I never got the chance. The front door of the lab building managed to scrape over the front of one of my feet, all but ripping out a toenail. Almost as if the door were some kind of open-toed-shoes prevention device, or a disciplinarian in the style of George Bluth. As it creaked shut, I could have sworn it said "and that's why you don't wear open-toed shoes to the lab."
posted by evidenceofabsence at 7:36 AM on June 22, 2012 [21 favorites]


I had all kinds of gender hangups in high school and this would have just reinforced them. "You're still expected to be girly even if you go into science? I thought that would be a safe place for me..."
posted by desjardins at 7:37 AM on June 22, 2012 [11 favorites]


So, if this doesnt work, how should we target girly girls and increase their interest in science?

I'm not girly, myself, but one or two of my colleagues are. Plenty of women are. And they can do Science too.

In fact I've always found it a little odd how women scientists almost aren't supposed to be girly-- I've certainly agonized myself over how feminine I can allow my attire to be, and I'm not exactly on the lipstick and high heels end of the spectrum.
posted by nat at 7:42 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's a difference between appealing to 'girly' women and getting them interesting in science and showing a bunch of models getting near-orgasmic over lipstick while a man does 50% of the science shown in the ad. For one, you could actually show them...doing something?

I mean, I've worked in the lab with women who were very lipstick-and-heels, and ones who were very much not, and the defining feature of both types were that they were interested in science.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 7:47 AM on June 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


Is it possible that this has been deliberately designed to be as laughably bad as it is in order to generate outrage and then discussion, which might ultimately do more good than an ignorably earnest and sane approach?

Because otherwise this is so ludicrous and incompetent that it's hard to get angry even. It's just mad that someone thought this was a good idea - I feel sorry for whoever it was.
posted by cincinnatus c at 7:48 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, if this doesnt work, how should we target girly girls and increase their interest in science?

That was exactly my point above. This video is bad in that doesn't serve those girly girls because the women in the video are not actually doing anything science-related. The Science Cheerleaders someone linked to above, on the other hand, does that. So do the programs that use the LilyPad Arduino board to get girls sewing circuits onto clothing, or projects where girls can make their own cosmetics (which I think is sort of the attitude this video was trying to take, even though it missed wildly), and find connections between stereotypically girly things and the world of science and engineering.

However, there is often a prevailing "Girls are like THIS, boys are like THIS" stereotype that leads too much STEM outreach to be like this, and as desjardins mentioned, that can turn off people who aren't girly girls. So what's needed is a balanced approach that first recognizes that there are different kinds of girls with differing levels of femininity, ALL of whom we need to invite into STEM fields with open arms.
posted by olinerd at 7:51 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Perhaps it's a stealth campaign aimed at getting men interested in science careers.
posted by zarq at 7:54 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because otherwise this is so ludicrous and incompetent that it's hard to get angry even. It's just mad that someone thought this was a good idea - I feel sorry for whoever it was.
Cocaine extraction: the victims are not only Latin Americans.
posted by jaduncan at 7:55 AM on June 22, 2012


Well, we had something similar, when DG Enlargement produced a video that was pretty racist.

Funnily enough all the EU spokesmen have gone to ground. They're all hiding.

The European Commission is about to start a campaign on human traffiking, I wonder what that video's going to be like? Lapdancers?
posted by quarsan at 7:57 AM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


If I understand this tweet, that Tipip agency is distancing themselves:
"Our professional ethics do not allow us to take a stand on the debate. For your information, the campaign teaser was produced by @Emakina"
posted by LucVdB at 7:57 AM on June 22, 2012


...that Emakina sound like the tackiest agency. First post on their public facing blog:
Emakina’s Bavaria Babes app: football never looked prettier

Emakina’s Bavaria Babes smartphone app lets football fans become “international players” by collecting pictures of themselves with scantily-clad women. Football never looked prettier.

Emakina created a new Bavaria app that encourages football fans to collect images of themselves posing next to scantily clad women, through a new free smartphone app on Android and Apple iOS. The Bavaria Babes App, a promotion for the European 2012 Football Championship, offers admirers of the beautiful game a contemporary version of collecting football cards – the chance to mock up pictures with a team of 11 beautiful women. [continued]
I guess the parody theory is out then.
posted by jaduncan at 8:06 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, if this doesnt work, how should we target girly girls and increase their interest in science?

Interview actual women scientists who self-identify as "girly" and have them encourage their peers, maybe? Here in the US, the mathematician and actor Danica McKellar has done some work to send the message that some mathematicians love to dress up pretty and that's cool.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:09 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had all kinds of gender hangups in high school and this would have just reinforced them. "You're still expected to be girly even if you go into science? I thought that would be a safe place for me..."

Very good point.

Judging by the experiences of my wife and peers (i.e., actual women scientists) in their conversations with students, women high school students and undergrads are absolutely floored to learn that scientists can have: hobbies, boyfriends, fun, and come from semi-typical and wide-ranging backgrounds. Yet, as clueless as those students are about the actual diversity of people involved with science, I imagine that they would easily be savvy enough to reject this kind of ad as complete bullshit. So who is this for?

So, if this doesnt work, how should we target girly girls and increase their interest in science?

Why is targeting "girly" women specifically a laudable goal? Why not approach women via some direction other than their appearance and supposed femininity? I didn't become a scientist because I saw ad campaigns of some masculine scientist wrestling bears -- I became a scientist because I was obsessed with science. Granted, it's different for men, although I faced plenty of gender role shaming about being a nerd. But, the way to get people obsessed with science is to engage them in a conversation about how stuff works and how we can explore ideas about how stuff works. This is completely orthogonal to "girliness" or "manliness." I just don't see how you can expect to engage people seriously if you start from some notion of your audience as "girly girls." Why not assume that girly and non-girly women alike will be receptive to a message that treats them as thinking people that can make real intellectual contributions to the world?

Sorry, not attacking anyone in this thread -- this video has just got my blood boiling.
posted by inkfish at 8:38 AM on June 22, 2012 [18 favorites]


Maybe there was a misunderstanding caused by translation issues? Maybe the ad agency thought they were supposed to make an ad to get more lads into science by telling them "Science: It's got Ladies in it now!"
posted by straight at 8:38 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Science Guarantees Citizenship
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:41 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Would you like to know more?
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:42 AM on June 22, 2012


Does anyone else hear Benny Benassi in their head if hey watch this muted?
posted by trackofalljades at 8:44 AM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Go Marie Curie! Go Marie Curie! It's your birthday! It's your birthday! Now Goodall! It's Jane Goodall! Get sexy! Get sexy! Now Ada! Work it Ada! Sashay...now turn!
posted by PlusDistance at 9:07 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


With the exception of the one drawing random letters on a board, none of them was actually DOING any science.

Truth told, the actual doing of science doesn't tend to photograph well.

If you were to video the SCIENCE! happening in my office right now, it would look like a bunch of 20 somethings sitting at computers sipping coffee.

The computers are just screaming though - I've got 64 cores pegged. I bet the lights are blinking furiously.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:09 AM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Like robocop is bleeding said, I'd prefer a video more in the vein of Bronte Sisters Power Dolls.
posted by book 'em dano at 9:16 AM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sex and the CIT

There was an afternoon in September when Carrie was doing some experiment or another, and there was too much smoke and she got out of the lab and walked down the middle of South Lake Avenue in an expensive pantsuit and open-toed Manolo Blahniks. Let’s face it, she thought: You own Caltech.

“Listen, sweetie,” Mr. Big Bang had said, several weeks earlier, “people don’t respect you as much as you’d probably like to think they do.”

“Yeah? So what?” She got a beaker out of the freezer to recieve her patented peach margarita.

“They think you have an agenda. But they don’t know what it is.”

“Is that supposed to be my problem?”

“That’s exactly what I’m talking about.”

“Who are these ‘people,’ anyway?”

“I’m just trying to give you some advice,” he said. “I’m just trying to help you. You’re too aggressive.”

Carrie felt herself slipping into that bad place again in her head. For the umpteenth time in months. Science was hard, and Mr. Big Bang was harder...
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:22 AM on June 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


The music sounds like an edit of Princess Superstar's "Perfect" (Exceeder Remix) which is absolutely hilarious in context.
posted by synthetik at 9:34 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Science needs your sexy legs, your fashion sense, your tasteful application of makeup, your perfectly tweezed eyebrows. Science needs YOU if you're an attractive, attractive lady."
posted by ChuraChura at 9:40 AM on June 22, 2012


No scientist, woman or otherwise, that I have met, would ever use a transparent whiteboard.

It makes no sense.
posted by demons in the base at 9:55 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sex and the CDC

There was an afternoon in September when Carrie was doing some experiment or another, and there was too much Ebola and she got out of the lab and walked down the middle of unincorporated DeKalb County in an expensive pantsuit and open-toed Manolo Blahniks. Let’s face it, she thought: Cough cough cough...
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:03 AM on June 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


In fact I've always found it a little odd how women scientists almost aren't supposed to be girly-- I've certainly agonized myself over how feminine I can allow my attire to be, and I'm not exactly on the lipstick and high heels end of the spectrum.

In our extremely small physics department, I had a great colleague (sadly, not on the tenure track) who dressed to. the. nines. High (HIGH!) heels, great dresses, beautifully-done makeup, well-coiffed hair—fabulous. She looked awesome every day and, when it comes to physics, she is hardcore. (Nicole, if you're reading this, keep rocking!)

I thought it was great that both the men and women in our classes got to see her, and me (ponytail, cardigan, plain T-shirt, dark-wash jeans, oxfords) because women can do science no matter what they look like.
posted by BrashTech at 10:28 AM on June 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, I see, this is a video about getting science interested in girls, not a video about getting girls interested in science.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 10:38 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Christ on a fucking catwalk.
posted by Decani at 11:34 AM on June 22, 2012


No scientist, woman or otherwise, that I have met, would ever use a transparent whiteboard.

It makes no sense.


But if you're thinking in montage form, it's kind of awesome. You could also ride the subway and ponder mathematic equations. Or go to a Harvard bar and challenge a pony-tail wearing douche to an economics contest.

HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPLES!?!?
posted by Fizz at 11:42 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Science is the HAWT!

(Seriously, I work in a meat department and take it as a compliment when coworkers tell me the bloodstained white coat, often flyaway wavy silver hair and glasses make me look like a mad scientist. Unfortunately, I had to get a hair cut today...)


Anyway, ladies of science, keep on rocking SCIENCE! and I'll judge the hawtness based on your work...
posted by Samizdata at 11:53 AM on June 22, 2012


Engineering and other STEM fields still have a stereotype problem, it's just moved from "poorly dressed geeky guy" to "poorly dressed geeky guys and girls" and that's not doing the field any favors either.

I think "poorly dressed" depends on the field. A running joke in my former biology department was that you can tell the sales representatives because they were the only ones wearing suits. Dry-clean-only fashion doesn't mix well with acetone, acids, potting soil, agar agar, or 20-gallon vats of green goo. Don't wear anything you would object to throwing into a hazmat bag in the event of a spill.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:12 PM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Lab work, in particular, really restricts "girliness": No long hair (must have a ponytail), no dangly jewelry, restrictions on makeup/no perfumes (messes up the chemistry/cleanroom/exposures), no short skirts or sleeves (no exposed skin), flat and closed toe shoes only (splash and slip hazards), no contacts---glasses only (unless you like corneal surgery).

Plus, long fingernails make labwork really difficult and can't be worn if you need to use gloves. You need to wear pretty ugly eyewear protection (see glasses only, above).

Finally, no one with an ounce of sense wears expensive clothes in a lab anyway. If there's a spill, it's often SOP to chuck any clothing, perhaps even to have to burn it.

Most lab (and field) clothing is pretty much casual and essentially disposable. That's where the dumpy scientist sterotype comes from. Well, that and general grad student/post-doc poverty.


On the other hand, if you job is to turn coffee into publications, there's plenty of room to go nuts. I know a few PIs that are pretty snappy dressers.
posted by bonehead at 12:39 PM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Reading the headline here, I was curious as to what minor aspect of such an obviously good problem could cause any sort of uproar, and it was less than two seconds into the video before I'm all "oh holy hell."

That said... this video is awful, but I can see (I think) what they were going for. Maybe.

My two very generous interpretations:

1. This is targeting pre-teens. In this case, it might actually be somewhat useful, taking the visual language of what these quite young girls are taught is "cool" and properly "girly" and using it to promote science as "sexy," in whatever that actually means to that age demographic.

2. The eye-rolling effect is intentional. It is parodying awful fashion ads in a way that is supposed to make the teenage girls interested in science laugh, and then show them that, yeah, this is ridiculous, but you can be awesome by working in scientific fields, etc. etc. If that's the case, well, it would have been a tightrope walk in any case, and this one failed spectacularly.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:53 PM on June 22, 2012


No scientist, woman or otherwise, that I have met, would ever use a transparent whiteboard.

It makes no sense.


When we run out of whiteboard space in the lab and we don't want to erase our work, we move to windows.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 1:10 PM on June 22, 2012


As an addendum to my previous comment, even if it's the pre-teen angle, I obviously realize and respect how problematic it is to try to promote a dissolution of gender barriers via a hyper-reinforcement of them.

Instead (again for that same demographic), I picture a spot where they get Emma Watson, sort-of as Hermione Granger, explaining that the "real" magic is in scientific advancement, and there's no reason they should open that world up for themselves and be proud to be the best at it. (I guess it's possible that Warner Brothers could cause a stink there, but I highly doubt it, and it's hard for me to believe that J.K. Rowling of all people would have a problem with her character being used to present that message.)
posted by Navelgazer at 1:14 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't wear heels in the lab but I do have a weakness for cashmere (so sue me, I do solventless extractions, haven't had to trash a cardigan yet) and cat-eyeliner.

Nevertheless, this neither adds nor detracts from my science skills. My appearance is entirely ORTHOGONAL to my status as a scientist. I do hope the #realwomenofscience thing doesn't swing too far into "real women of science are frumpy!" territory as a polar response to this dreadful dreadful video.
posted by zingiberene at 1:23 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


This video is private.

I guess they were getting too much flack from it.
posted by bswinburn at 1:46 PM on June 22, 2012


And here's a mirror.
posted by bswinburn at 1:52 PM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]




It's like no one ever heard of the male gaze. This could be the textbook example!
posted by geeklizzard at 4:14 PM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Lab work, in particular, really restricts "girliness": No long hair (must have a ponytail), no dangly jewelry, restrictions on makeup/no perfumes (messes up the chemistry/cleanroom/exposures), no short skirts or sleeves (no exposed skin), flat and closed toe shoes only (splash and slip hazards), no contacts---glasses only (unless you like corneal surgery).

Clearly, I have missed my chosen career, wardrobe-wise. /sighs
posted by emjaybee at 5:01 PM on June 22, 2012


Nottingham Science (of periodic table of videos, 60 symbols and big sky) responds.
posted by poe at 5:12 PM on June 22, 2012


Yeah, that was definitely not great. I kinda liked their Science! goggles, though. Those were cute.
posted by redsparkler at 6:06 PM on June 22, 2012


Why is targeting "girly" women specifically a laudable goal? Why not approach women via some direction other than their appearance and supposed femininity?

Yeah, exactly. And this is exactly my problem with it. Even people who think "girls like feminine shit, let's show science as feminine!" are actually missing an important psychological point about much highly gendered-as-feminine behavior: it's not only about preference, liking to look and feel feminine. Much of it is about belonging and acceptance. For many girls who practive hyperfeminity at that age, part of the project is simply to establish a peer network and reduce anxiety by establishing bonds of shared interest and activity and adopting behaviors which are rewarded. Now, that doesn't actually have to fight with interest in science. Science is collegial! Scientists have crazy fun with their science friends. They travel and go to conferences, talk together about their experiences, do fun projects and stunts. Show that. Show how science doesn't mean you aren't social. Science doesn't mean you're isolated. Science can mean that you have a vibrant, interesting, and fun network to live and work in.

I wasn't into science at this age. Well, wrong. I say that, but in fact I was; just not through any official channel presented to me - more like in explorations in the natural world outdoors, and discussions with my engineer dad about the nature of the universe. But when I think about what would have made me go "science, wow, that looks awesome" at age 11 or 12, it would not be "girliness," but: adventure. Fieldwork, lab breakthroughs, amazing equipment and skills. Independence: making a decent living. Discovery: finding something new, making new knowledge no one ever knew before. Problem-solving and mystery. Being part of a smart, interesting, hardworking team that had moments of challenge and moments of triumph. Seeing and hearing from some real people who chose this path and are happy, fun, and infectiously interested. That's all it takes; not some incredibly shallow and disdainful and really insulting-to-girls idea about what girls are interested in; but an honestly enthusiastic portrait about the many real excitements and opportunities involved in belonging to a science community and working in an exciting field.
posted by Miko at 6:13 PM on June 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


I saw the video this morning, and it brought up a boatload of stuff for me (not exactly the reaction I think the EU was going for, but I'm not the intended audience.)

I am pretty butch, and have been out since I was 13. I loved science as a kid, and math, and wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of my life doing whatever came after saving up my money, buying a microscope, buying frogs from Carolina Biological Supply and doing dissections and tissue sampling while my sister yelled about how unfair it was she had to share a room with me.

But somehow around age 13, I somehow began to believe that being gay meant all of that was closed to me, that somehow I would have to pursue an English/Social Studies based discipline and be happy with it. Turns out I wrote well, and went to NYU for Screenwriting, worked as a journalist, morphed into a web developer, and then took some time off to figure out what I really wanted to be when I grew up.

While doing the science I had sadly left behind in preparation for grad school, I felt like it was a second coming out: I had come home, I had met people who I had more in common with that many of my fellow LGBT people, I could geek out and have people join me rather than look at me like I had just birthed a litter of kittens in front of them. It was (and continues to be) the best decision I ever made with regards to my happiness and fulfillment.

This is where it gets complicated: the only people who sometimes may have weirdness about my self-presentation are undergraduate students, and it is almost always allayed within the first few classes, as I am all about the science and they get that. Colleagues, fellow grad students, etc. -- it's not an issue.

What is an issue is that there are excellent female students who are not taken as seriously as I am, and I have little doubt that it is because they are way girly-er than I am. In one case, I know that more was expected of me by a professor because I wasn't like the other women in the program. And while I benefit from these attitudes in some cases, in reality we all lose, because the other women are handicapped by these same attitudes, and the idea is reinforced that feminine scientists are somehow less capable, or intelligent or dedicated than those of us who eschew those accoutrements.

So yeah, we need to make sure that when we look for what a scientist looks like, it isn't a bunch of well-intentioned stereotypes that end up just being ridiculous, because you lose really good potential scientists like that, and then we all suffer.
posted by ltracey at 6:54 PM on June 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


<sigh>

I'm starting to see some of the young women who got directed into "Science!" through similar kinds of "young adult women friendly" campaigns. Most, though, were already influenced by family/upbringing/social class.

Not to say that it hasn't been the case, but I'm getting old/jaded/experienced enough to see the trend.

Unfortunately, anecdotally, I've been recognizing a growing percentage of (Caucasian North American) young females entering hard(ish) science MSc/PhD/(MD? less personal experience) programs who aren't able to meet the established criteria for graduating, but are given extraordinary leaway (non-maternity related) and still graduated while having produced far less than someone who's graduation was declined/delayed for similar/more-completed work.

Absolutely, there are qualified people who happen to be female and attractive and are productive at the highest levels. However, the number of people who are really super "gung ho" about "making a difference" and "innovating a field" tend to be these young women who think that they are attractive and pay a lot of attention to physical appearances. My 'n' is pretty low, but it really feels like there's *almost* an inverse correlation between scientific success and conventional personal appearance, skewed that way because of the inclusion and leniency given to this small but probably increasing population.

I'm not saying hot = stupid. Not. At. All.

I'm just seeing a lot of young women trying to get ahead based on just being a woman and on thinking that their attractive and taking advantage of anti-discrimination to the hilt. I don't blame them for making the best case for themselves, but I'm wondering if doing so isn't a favour to other women and science. I still stand by this sentiment even knowing the (true-er?) story of Polly Matzinger, who would be a personal Saint of mine, if I was religious.

FWIW, there are also really hot young men in MSc and PhD programs. Anecdotally, some that I know have harder times getting themselves taken seriously and have to be more impeccable in their arguments/support, when, a decade or two ago my supervisor (lady, athletic) had to take this tact to be taken more seriously.

It sucks, but being "hot" is something scientists have to work around:

- This particular bit about the science that you're claiming stinks.
- "I'm a women, you stupid ugly old men think all women are hot and just physical objects. My Science! and claim is valid!"
- "uh...."
- "You're being sexist!"
- "uh..."

Even if not said in open, sometimes this comes up - especially with more insecure trainee/junior researchers. Supervisors are less likely to grill a young(er) woman than a male, especially someone who looks to be a rising star. In my experience, "Rising star" females' data are accepted as is and pumped up, whereas really interesting raw data from a non-attractive/non-female (by a female PI/supervisor) is questioned extensively and investigated.

Ugh. Sorry, I'm getting more drunk as I write this and I'm hoping to emerge from some level of Hell where PhD students go between submitting a thesis and defending it. But in my department, the sexual discrimination thing has created a new situation where less qualified people are given the same approval as everyone else. Dropping/failing a bad grad student is hard enough, dropping a female bad grad student.... can't be done. Evidently. And I think that's a really negative development for the program here.
posted by porpoise at 7:54 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Taking the "hot" out of it, how many utterly mediocre men are there in the sciences?
posted by Miko at 8:02 PM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I read comments earlier today; being on my phone, I couldn't easily watch the video. I thought I'd be prepared when i finally watched it.

Dear gods, it's worse than I thought.

What.... the fuck.
posted by Deoridhe at 8:25 PM on June 22, 2012


I'm really sorry Metafilter for that incoherent rant (and in preview, Miko - I needed that called out).

Actually, Miko - there are still far more men working for their PhD candidacy than women. Of course there are certainly more utterly mediocre and poorly equipped men.

But these guys aren't crusaders. Just another statistic in the graduate school rolls. I'm talking about a different statistic in the rolls - people who have as good or better academic scores but don't have the temperment to be researchers. They had been lied to and then come to resent science after being enamoured with it through childhood. This kind of bubble-gum advertisement for science seems destined to be self-defeating.

I've heard of a couple (2) of men actually fail their oral defense in my years of grad school. No women. Anecdotal and supremely small and diluted 'n.'
posted by porpoise at 8:27 PM on June 22, 2012


Anecdote: I'm a girly girl and adore science. My mom is a physical chemist. Nothing gets you more into science than trying to imagine F Orbitals, yo.
posted by Deoridhe at 8:29 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually, Miko - there are still far more men working for their PhD candidacy than women. Of course there are certainly more utterly mediocre and poorly equipped men.

Well, until we've got an equal number of utterly mediocre and poorly equipped people, we don't have an egalitarian situation. So bring 'em on. We've got generations of mediocre men in science already under the bridge.
posted by Miko at 8:30 PM on June 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wait... hot male scientists?

That's a trick question. There aren't any.
posted by porpoise at 8:42 PM on June 22, 2012


"Batman's a scientist."
-- Homer Simpson
posted by radwolf76 at 9:53 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


That video was pretty bad. But after pondering "WTF were they thinking?", I think I get it. When you and I watch the video, it looks like its aimed at all girls, and is reinforcing a negative stereotype onto them. But I think it's aimed specifically at those who already are that stereotype*, to show them (and just them) that being into science doesn't conflict with their necessarily conflict with their other interests. I don't know if I'm explaining this well, but I don't think they were trying to reinforce the negative, just trying to reach out to those that were already there, using something they'll identify with to pull them back from the brink, so to speak.

On another note, when I was a child, science and math were the "girly" subjects, while history was for the boys. It's so strange lately. I've seen a lot of things lately trying to correct a stereotype that science isn't for girls, or math isn't for girls. As far as I knew, math and science already were for the girls. In fact, I recall being called girly when it was discovered I was good at math. It's continues to be shocking to realize that many people don't already think: Science, it's a Girl Thing.

*or those that feel obligated to fake it
posted by BurnChao at 10:31 PM on June 22, 2012


Wait... hot male scientists?

That's a trick question. There aren't any.


WRONG!
posted by Fizz at 9:32 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


As far as I knew, math and science already were for the girls.

You had a very unusual experience, then.

The reason middle school is the classic target for intervention, though, is that the divide happens sometime in that time period, not before. In the elementary grades, girls do better at just about everything - literacy, math, science - and there isn't much gender stigma attached to various school subjects. In middle school, kids begin to recede toward gender norms, and historically, from that point onward, and especially in high school, expectations for girls in sciences have dropped dramatically, often to the point of clearly exclusionary practice. And this isn't just "lately;" it was first written about in the 1970s, has been well studied from the 80s on, and in fact I did my college final project on this topic in 1994.

using something they'll identify with to pull them back from the brink

I doubt any kid is going to identify with this. They can see right through this shit, it misses the mark entirely in convincing them of anything about science and serves only to convince them of the cluelessness of adults, and so it won't make any more sense to a 12-year-old than it does to us.
posted by Miko at 10:13 AM on June 23, 2012


Ugh. I used to like the way the EU thought, but they have had some spectacular fails lately, this one included. It looks like those girls are modeling science, and the video does little to tell me as a viewer what would be fun about science or why it is better than competing career options.
posted by EatMyHat at 12:03 PM on June 23, 2012


I've heard of a couple (2) of men actually fail their oral defense in my years of grad school. No women.

chi squared or gtfo
posted by en forme de poire at 12:06 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, if science is a girl thing, what effect will that have on budding boy-scientists?
posted by EatMyHat at 12:07 PM on June 23, 2012


That depends. How much do they enjoy sex with women?
posted by maryr at 10:21 PM on June 23, 2012


As a counter example here's an example of what needs to be done in my particular stemy field: Paper Examines Gender Issues in Chemistry Careers. The original paper by Dr. Grunert is here. As the author points out, the real problem is not getting girls to enrol in chemistry, in this case, at the senior school or even college levels. It's keeping women on track to research careers following their BSc and then again converting PhDs into researchers.

This video isn't just stupid, it's also targeted at the completely wrong audience, who need a different set of incentives and encouragement anyway.
posted by bonehead at 7:42 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]




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