Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Science: It's an Everybody Thing

Didja watch the video? Didja?

It honestly took an entire day for my opinion to form on this PA by the European Commission.  At first, I could feel my hackles rising as I thought of all the ways that this video went wrong.  The problem is that it becomes as much a statement on what "women should be" as it is on "what scientists are".

Things I love:
These women come in like they own the lab.  With confidence, they show that they can handle an equation.

Things I don't love:
The women are obviously supposed to look like models.  They represent a very narrow view on what a "girl" may look or act like.  With their stilettos and fashion glasses, the video makes it look like the only reason that they're interested in science is to create make-up.

In fairness, it should be pointed out that the current "scientist" at the microscope is obviously a male model, so at least they went for equality there.

This becomes a classic case of "damned if you do, damned if you don't".  When no one intervenes, the public gets upset because many women naturally steer themselves away from STEM. The public accuses the industry of not doing enough to encourage diversity.  But then, if someone does step up to intervene, they get hit with all sorts of flack.

The truth is, a fifty-three second second spot is far too short to incorporate all possible representations of women.  They're trying to get their message across to one particular group (probably middle school girls) so they took an archetype that statistically appeals to that target.

In the end, I'd much rather have seen a fashionista, a female athlete, a book-worm and an artist band together to take the lab over from the guys -- or better yet, to work *with* them -- because in reality, science isn't just a *girl* thing.  It's an *everybody* thing.

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