Scientists join #manicuremonday
November 25, 2013 11:21 AM   Subscribe

Seventeen Magazine encourages its readers to post pictures of their nail polish on twitter every Monday, using the tag #manicuremonday. Starting last week, working scientists and engineers have been contributing their own fingers - often beautifully manicured - doing sciencey stuff. The movement was started by scientist Hope Jahren. [Slate, HuffPo]

Some favorites:
Solar system nails by planetary scientist Sarah Hörst (check her recent tweets for closeups of each nail)
This crab matches biologist Alexis Rudd's nails!
More from geekfeminism
posted by moonmilk (34 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't really have anything of substance to add here except to say that this is an awesome thing and I love it.

I was a really smart, nerdy, science-loving kid, and I grew up with this (terrible) assumption that liking anything girly made me less smart. I've never been a particularly girly person, but damnit I really love when my nails look pretty. It would have been nice to have some un-stereotype reinforcement as a kid. This is so great.
posted by phunniemee at 11:30 AM on November 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


Finger-biting kestrels (as seen in the geekfeminism link) give the best manicures. Awesome and adorable!
posted by AbbyNormal at 11:30 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actually, LOTS of female neuroscientists that I know love to paint their nails. Even without knowing about this, I have at least three or four photos of sparkly fingertips taken at various conferences over the years. (You guys, we have a high tolerance for detailed work and very steady hands.) So I love this both ways.
posted by synapse at 11:36 AM on November 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


I think this is awesome provided people's nails are actually painted...I wouldn't waste my time looking at bare nails, no matter how nicely manicured.
posted by agregoli at 11:38 AM on November 25, 2013


A lot of those geekfeminism posts feature unmanicured nails or no nails visible at all, instead just showing science stuff. So, isn't this basically threadshitting? It would suck if I was really interested in seeing some cool nail art (which I was) and got this instead.
posted by scrowdid at 11:40 AM on November 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Nice extra-geeky touch - Sarah Hörst just tweeted:
my #manicuremonday planet tweets are approximately spaced by their light travel time from sun :)
posted by moonmilk at 11:41 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love this idea, but I think the execution needs some work. In particular, what is really needed for these posts to be successful are more fancy, painted fingernails. That's going to be the hook -- the way for young girls to see that women in science are actually more like them than they think now, and that painted fingernails are not out of place while, for example, holding a gecko.
posted by anastasiav at 11:41 AM on November 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't know, this is weird to me. Maybe it's because I really dislike makeup and nail polish, but I don't like having femme things thrust upon me.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:44 AM on November 25, 2013


Yeah, the addition of dirty nails with captions like "boy do i need a #manicuremonday" is a little vexing. But the lit-up firefly butt makes up for it a hundredfold.
posted by elizardbits at 11:45 AM on November 25, 2013


In particular, what is really needed for these posts to be successful are more fancy, painted fingernails.

At least for the 17 reading crowd. I'd bet that a lot of the target audience are too busy reading other stuff to bother with 17 though. Not that there's not a subset that are reading both...
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:46 AM on November 25, 2013


Holding a hermit crab FTW.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:48 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I admit: I almost fell for this one. I mean, it seemed like a believable concept and some of the execution looks super real. Actually took me a couple of minutes to realize that scientists don't have fingers goddamnit. Don't know if these 4chan hoaxes are getting super sophisticated or if I'm getting old.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:51 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


to bother with 17 though

But that's the point, isn't it? It's cool to be into One Direction and nails AND ALSO particle physics. It's fine to be into computers and electronics AND ALSO ponies and fashion. It's great to be INTO STUFF, and one of the cool things you can be into is Science, but that doesn't mean you must reject the other stuff you love. Things Girls Do are just as valid as Things Boys Do, and either can be into Science, because Saturn doesn't care what your genitals are like.

So it's not "bother with 17", it's "hey, you like 17. Other people who like that stuff also like Science! Check it out!"

Not getting at you in particular, and I'm no doubt misreading what you wrote. Apologies in advance.
posted by alasdair at 11:52 AM on November 25, 2013 [9 favorites]


I kind of want to take this over myself and post pictures of, I dunno, my hand in a bowl of Jell-O, or giving scritchies to a bowling ball, or poking a hornets nest with a stick, or any number of things that would probably only be amusing to me.
posted by bondcliff at 12:01 PM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


PATENTLY UNTRUE, all those things would be amusing to prolly everyone in this thread.
posted by elizardbits at 12:02 PM on November 25, 2013


Hope Jahren's blog post: What I learned from #ManicureMonday
posted by moonmilk at 12:04 PM on November 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm a boy and I want to do more with my nails, and I can't wait til I'm in a job with less of a bigot/homophobe as a boss so I can do so. :)

I think it would be rad and sort of cross-pollinate if we had guy-scientists doing this too... That is - getting girls into the sciences and smashing that boundary and doing the reverse boundary smashing where it becomes more acceptable for dudes to wear awesome nail designs :)
posted by symbioid at 12:15 PM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't know. It rather feels judgmental of women/girls that do nail art for its own sake.
posted by Windigo at 12:15 PM on November 25, 2013


I think it's nice that there's an assortment of both pretty painted nails and completely neglected nails. Girls can look at the whole assortment and realize that (a) you can be feminine and artsy WHILE showing off your smarts and doing valuable work, and (b) your work is every bit as important and valuable even when you choose not to spend hours on your appearance and do not prefer to emphasize your femininity.
posted by AbbyNormal at 12:16 PM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


symbioid, a lot of my hetero guy friends will go for pedicures with their lady friends and end up getting fancy colors and whatnot, and there is the added bonus of no viewing of the nails by judgey bosses! Plus it is extremely relaxing.
posted by elizardbits at 12:17 PM on November 25, 2013


the way for young girls to see that women in science are actually more like them than they think now

But we should be aware that campaigns to raise awareness of this might actually alienate girls from science and decrease their confidence. Newscientist had a piece on Science! It's a girl thing that explains the problem.

It's probably a stereotype threat catch-22. Confronting the stereotype raises the specter of the stereotype.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 12:22 PM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Completely neglected negates the point. Nail blogs have been around for awhile. No matter how noble, anyone interested in nail art won't want to see bare nails!
posted by agregoli at 12:25 PM on November 25, 2013


I think the audience for this is not necessarily the same as the audience for nail blogs, though.
posted by blue t-shirt at 12:37 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Part of the problem is that painted nails are actually mostly incompatible with science, especially field science. Doing your nails up fancy takes at least a couple hours including drying time. Fingernail polish last, for me, a maximum of 5 days (new record I set last week; before it was 1 day) when I'm doing boring science stuff like entering data. There was no way that I was going to do fancy nails for the field only to have it chip after an hour.

Now, all of my science stuff is done in front of the computer and I can paint my nails when ever I want. And I just added my nails to #ManicureMonday. Not nail art (because, no) but colour. I like getting to show off to girls that there are women in science, and showing off to fellow scientists that I like to wear girly stuff and that doesn't mean I'm not a great scientist.

When I did fieldwork though, I had painted toenails constantly because it was perfect for hiding the dirt.
posted by hydrobatidae at 12:40 PM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe so, but does anyone want to look at this? What's the hook? It's annoying that the premise seems to be cool nails but includes bare nails too. It's clumsy as hell.

I'm all for giving a shout out to women in science and men who wear nail poish, as both are awesome. But this I don't get.
posted by agregoli at 12:49 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I much prefer the photos of people doing science with painted nails. Including non-painted nails just seems condescending. A lot of nail polish nerds are also regular nerds; science and nail art aren't mutually exclusive. Not too long ago, there was an indie polish brand called NerdLacquer that was hugely popular.

I'm a nail polish geek (I'm not a scientist, but I'm certainly not a ditz) and one of the things I love about the current nail art trend is that it's not really about being girly in the sense of being delicate and looking attractive. It's about making tiny bits of art for yourself and sometimes celebrating your dorkiness.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:08 PM on November 25, 2013 [9 favorites]


Back in the days when I did science, if I ever put nail polish on it would get removed by solvents almost immediately.
posted by sciencegeek at 1:16 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, okay, after reading Hope Jahren's blog post, I'm a little less thrilled about the origins of this. I had thought it was a bit more joyful/joining than condescension. But like Metroid Baby, I do really like the pics of the science people who have cool nails and are doing cool things. (I'm rocking black and pink houndstooth nails right now while I'm analyzing data.)
posted by synapse at 1:45 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


What's the hook?

I think, by hijacking Seventeen's hashtag, they're hoping to hook teenage girls who would otherwise think of science as incompatible with fashion. I'm down with that.
posted by Dashy at 2:16 PM on November 25, 2013


Yeah. Nail art definitely isn't like, revolutionary or anything, but girls do it emphatically for other girls and the guys out there who appreciate nail art qua nail art. "Traditional" guys not only don't care, they usually seem to dislike it and a lot of them find it creepy rather than pretty.

I mean, some guys find it cool, but the kind of guy you'd think of most women performing femininity for probably isn't that impressed, right.
posted by stoneandstar at 3:18 PM on November 25, 2013


If this kind of "pretty-lady scientist" meme had been around when I was an awkward, fattening girl, I'm pretty sure the "oh, I'm not even ladylike enough to do science" message would have kept me from becoming an engineer.

I do not like this. (ok, I do like the people posting their "ain't nobody got time for that" regular nails, if only so that this meme dies faster.)

I say all this as a lady who recently discovered the wonder of gel nail polish (dries instantly, good for 2 weeks... a fortnight!) and backed this kickstarter.
posted by sparklemotion at 6:22 PM on November 25, 2013


I learned how to make my science-themed nail art from nail art blogs, so this makes a lot of sense for me!
posted by armacy at 6:32 PM on November 25, 2013


If this kind of "pretty-lady scientist" meme had been around when I was an awkward, fattening girl, I'm pretty sure the "oh, I'm not even ladylike enough to do science" message would have kept me from becoming an engineer.

The thing is that scientists (male and female) are a diverse bunch. When I was doing my (evolutionary genetics) PhD I liked to read novels and wear kitten heels with tan fishnets. Now I never knew these accoutrements to negatively impact my ability to work in the lab. The novels were read of an evening and the heels were closed toe. BUT I rapidly became known as "The PhD candidate who is studying science but would be far better off doing a literature degree". It wasn't until I presented some (if I say so myself) compelling and damn sexy data that the snide quips ceased.

Some scientists like to go trekking and camping and get grubby in their spare time. Some scientists like to wear six-inch heels and sing in a jazz band in their spare time. Some scientists like to come back from the field all grubby, but emerge in the evening to DJ their little hearts out (Ithere are SO many scientist DJs). They can ALL do good science.

Scientists are thinkers, and most are pretty non-conformist. We're just all non-conformist in a variety of ways. The more that people accept non-standard views of what a scientist is, the more we can get away from the cliche of the frazzle-haired old man scientist that shadows us all.

NB. not to disparage frazzle-haired old man scientists. My grandfather was one of those and he was grade-A awesome. I've got a brilliant photo of him in a 70s paisley shirt, smoking a pipe, working in the lab :)
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 8:36 PM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's cool to be into One Direction and nails AND ALSO particle physics.

No, just particle physics. Well, ok nails too.

Things Girls Do are just as valid as Things Boys Do

Right, but what does that have to do with 17? 17 is things marketing agency grown ups tell girls they are supposed to like and do, not "Things Girls Do".
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:41 PM on November 25, 2013


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