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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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Harsh Reviews for European Commission Video Aimed at Closing Science Gender Gap
22 June 2012 5:46 pm
Science, technology, math and engineering fields suffer from a troubling gender gap, many experts argue. The European Commission (EC), for example, reports that fewer than 32% of Europe's career researchers are women. But the EC is taking a lot of flak for its latest attempt to close that gap, a campaign launched on Thursday called "Science: It's a Girl Thing." While the campaign Web site is fairly innocuous, an associated 53-second trailer is drawing some angry criticism.
The video opens with three female models strutting into the frame in high heels and short skirts. A male scientist watching them from behind his microscope doesn't seem to mind that none of them are wearing safe lab attire—he just pops his glasses on for a better look. The rest of the video is a mish-mash of heels, nail polish, lipstick, and sexily smoldering Erlenmeyer flasks, arbitrarily punctuated by girly giggles.
The video is so chock-full of clichés that viewers might be forgiven for thinking it a parody. It certainly bears more than a few similarities to this Saturday Night Live sketch. But alas, according to a tweet from Michael Jennings, the EC's spokesperson for research, innovation and science, it's very real: "Commission doesn't really do irony."
The online reaction to the video has been overwhelmingly negative. It had 98 likes and 2755 dislikes on YouTube as of 5 p.m., EDT on 22 June. And the backlash on Twitter was severe; a seemingly endless string of posts tagged #sciencegirlthing indict the video, calling it "tacky and demeaning," a "travesty," and " painful patronizing cliche." The hash tag #realwomenofscience has surged in popularity as a response.
Those responsible for the campaign have also turned to Twitter to defend it. Tipik, the agency in charge of the "Science: It's a Girl Thing" campaign, was quick to deflect the blame to the company it says made the video, and stated in a tweet: "Our professional ethics do not allow us to take a stand on the debate." EC spokesperson Jennings tweeted that the video was not central to the main campaign, but just "45 seconds of fun for launch to grab attention."
As this story went to press, the "Science: It's a Girl Thing" trailer was removed from the campaign's official YouTube feed and is no longer accessible there for public viewing.