Friday, 22 June 2012

"Science: it's a girl thing" disappointing campaign

This morning I discovered (via Clara Grima) a new campaign from the European Union (EU) to promote science among girls and I was very disappointed. It's called "Science: it's a girl thing".

This campaign was launched yesterday with a conference in Brussels and it looked like a very good idea. We really need to encourage girls to get interested in science but the way the EU chose to do it this time is making many people angry.

There has been a lot of discussion about gender equality in science in the EU and I've been involved in some conferences and projects focused on this issue. I know the European Commission (EC) is committed to decrease the gender gap in science. One example is that the EC has taken the Recommendations for Action on the Gender Dimension in Science from the GenSET project. This project organised the first European Gender Summit last year and organises it again this year. The first summit produced a manifesto that in its last point says:
Promote closer collaborations between schools and universities to support efforts to recruit more women into research by creating: a) positive images of women scientists; and b) appreciation of the benefits of science in a multi-cultural, and multi-lingual Europe. Investing in higher education for women and engaging Europe’s diverse populations provides a unique competitive advantage to achieve Innovation Union commitments.
Well, with the teaser video of the campaign they haven't created a positive image of women scientists but a very biased and clichéd one. If the people who made this video (I'm really scared of viewing the whole video) were in the summit they would have never made it in this way. Never. It's in complete disagreement with what it was discussed there. We need more women in science but this is not the way to promote that. And I'm not the only one who thinks in this way. In twitter the hashtag #sciencegirlthing shows the disappointment of many other people. But you can see the teaser video here and judge by yourself. 

UPDATE!!!!! (23rd of June)

The European Commission, after the cascade of negative reactions to the video, has removed it and started a new hashtag in twitter, #realwomeninscience, to build a list of women scientists in twitter. The list is interesting and complements another list made in Goggle + of STEM women.

The video was dowloaded by some people and put it back on youtube. So you still can watch it here.

In addition, I want to share this video made by astronomer Dr Meghan Gray as well, where she gives her view on the campaign. And check this post about a recent study about how role models for girls can do more harm than good.

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