In what appears to be an institutional attempt to patronize and condescend to women everywhere, the European Commissionís marketing team has released a YouTube video of a group of giggly girls in lab coats, apparently manicuring their way to a science degree.
No, seriously, this is the European Commissionís attempt at attracting more women into scientific fields, take a look:
YesÖ. ďScienceÖitís a girl thing!Ē
Please excuse me, I need to find a bucket.
ďGood Lord. What is that, the "science" of makeup?Ē asked one female commenter after viewing the video, adding sarcastically, ďI don't know about you, but I always wear my highest heels when working in the lab.Ē (Personally, I wouldn't be seen dead soldering circuits without a perfect manicure... it would just be a huge no-no...)
ďThey clearly meant well, but... yeah,Ē added a male technology journalist in response.
Now, I'm not saying the EC is inherently sexist. Itís not. It even has a female vice president (Neelie Kroes) responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe.
What I am saying is that this marketing video certainly smacks of a lack of the role of women in today's workplace. And that's shocking, to say the least.
Iíve emailed the spokesperson at the EC and am currently waiting for a comment. Iíll update the story if I get one.
Here is a link to a book that celebrates European women scientists throughout the ages. The book tells the stories of some of the heroines of European science. http://ec.europa.eu/research/audio/women-in-science/pdf/wis_en.pdf#view=fit&pagemode=none.
"The subject is so geeky, nerdy, and uncool that few youth will risk the ridicule of their peers ..."
Whoa, what an odd attitude! What SHOULD be strange is to venerate those who have a talent for throwing spheres or oblong spheroids around, for no good reason. Even if this earns them obscene incomes.
My guess is that is how some of those quite wealthy EU executives think. Being rich and powerful does not assure a good character by any means. ON the other hand, it is probably quite a challenge to interest anybody in engineering unless they already have some technical interest. I am not sure how that would be done. But then, I am an engineer, not a motivational wizard.
I believe that most of the commenters here, as myself, are technologists of one form or another, and are therefore not part of the target audience for this piece. I give the EC credit for at least recognizing that one of the key issues with encouraging youth, especially females, in STEM is the negative social stigma attached to it. The subject is so geeky, nerdy, and uncool that few youth will risk the ridicule of their peers, and peer pressure is huge. I think the message they tried to convey is that you don't need to leave fashion and your social life behind to pursue STEM. As such, I don't see it as being sexist.
There was a short piece that ran on U.S. TV perhaps 20 years ago. It featured a black teen working equations, as several famous athletes cheered him on and congratulated him on his success. I remember that Faud Reveiz, the former Miami Dolphins kicker, was among them. A similar message aimed at a different audience.
"Your comment assumes that the best thing for society is that people get what they want and are popular."
I disagree. To me, that comment meant that people can only excel at what they have a passion for. So that's what they should be doing.
There's more that society needs than just engineers. If someone wants to become an architect, or a college professor, or a doctor, or a linguist, or any number of other professions, it's not because they want to do what is most "popular."
At the same time, it would be foolish to force them into engineering, because they would make, at best, mediocre engineers.
Your comment assumes that the best thing for society is that people get what they want and are popular. That assumption is untrue. What is best for society is that we all work together to solve our problems in as efficient a manner as possible. Anything else simply prolongs the suffering (and if you don't know what suffering is there, open your eyes and heart). To make things better at peak efficiency, we must make the best use of the resources we have. That means that a creative, intelligent woman who doesn't get into science and engineering is a loss to the whole world.
You're all thinking like grown, self-assured adults. Now imagine yourself as a 10yr old girl looking beyond the box full of Barbies. Is it worth doing your maths homework, or building up a science fair poster? Having one brain cell that links glamour with science is probably not a bad thing.