New European Campaign Inadvertently Glorifies Gender Stereotypes

It’s no secret that science isn’t exactly a female-dominated field, and the European Commission has taken notice. Although it was a well-intentioned effort, the commission launched their dud of a campaign just this week to urge women that they’ll, like, totally love science.

With its not-even-slightly-catchy slogan, “Science: It’s a Girl Thing!”, the campaign inadvertently made a mockery of female intelligence with its sweeping generalizations regarding what will catch a girl’s attention. Just as I thought the video, featuring a trio of ladies decked out in pink that seem to be wearing lab goggles like they’re the latest fashion trend, couldn’t get any cheesier, it did. To my dismay, I noticed that the “I” in science was a tube of lipstick. Because girls can only relate to things that are sugar, spice, and everything nice. And nothing else.

Ironically enough, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn of the European Commission said that the campaign was trying to “overturn clichés and show women and girls (and boys too!) that science is not about old men in white coats.” Personally, watching a group of women parade around in a sea of Pepto-Bismol pink doesn’t quite make me feel inspired to pursue my own scientific study. Even if the aforementioned women are all donning a pair of lab goggles. Apparently, I’m not alone in feeling this way. Nature editor Helen Pearson said it was “packed with painful patronizing cliché," while psychologist Petra Boynton’s in-your-face reaction was, “For the love of all things holy, what is this crap?” Couldn’t have put it better myself, Boynton.

To urge young women to pursue a career in science, why not shift the focus to the science teachers that they're looking up to? There’s nothing like an irritable, difficult-to-follow sixth grade science teacher to stomp on a potential passion for the field. Or perhaps the focus should be shifted from the skinny clan of babes that want its female audience to think that science is like, the funnest, to real, live women working in the field. Check out the campaign video below, and don’t say I didn’t warn you:

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Image courtesy of salon.com

Tagged in: gender stereotypes, European Commission   

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