Promotional Science Video Criticized

A video from the European Commission, aimed at encouraging women to enter STEM fields, is criticized for its use of clichés, including high heels and short skirts.

By Jef Akst | June 25, 2012

YouTube video" > Screen shot from YouTube video


"Science: It's a Girl Thing." It’s the name of a campaign launched by the European Commission (EC) last Thursday (June 21) with the intent of reducing the lingering gender gap in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. While the intention may be good, the EC’s methods are being questions—specifically, a 53-second promotional video featuring female models in high heels and short skirts and a male scientist watching on with interest.

The montage of nail polish, lipstick, mathematical equations, smoking Erlenmeyer flasks, and giggling girls “is so chock-full of clichés that viewers might be forgiven for thinking it a parody,” ScienceInsider reported. But as EC's spokesperson for research, innovation, and science Michael Jennings said in a tweet, "Commission doesn't really do irony."

As of this posting, the video has 165,160 views on YouTube, with 2,815 dislikes and only 404 likes. And over the weekend, Twitter was abuzz with indicting comments, such as "tacky and demeaning," a "travesty," and " painful patronizing cliche." To these, Jennings simply replied: "45 seconds of fun for launch to grab attention."

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Avatar of: carolgreilick


Posts: 1

June 25, 2012

Sad, sad.  The vast majority of girls and young women do not relate to the images presented - they feel aliented and inadequate because that is not how they look.  There is no difference between the impact that this ad has and the impact that any fashion magazine has on girls and young women.  Now there are new messages:  to be a successful scientist, you must look like this or if you want to snag a hot scientist boyfriend, you must look like this or looking like this will ensure your success...

Avatar of: Paul


Posts: 1457

June 25, 2012

Anyone who goes to a national or international science conference know that young women such as depicted in the commercial DO participate and are the next generation of female scientists.

Avatar of: Gabriele Berghammer

Gabriele Berghammer

Posts: 1457

June 25, 2012

critics of the video serve yet another deplorable cliché, i.e, that intelligent girls never wear high heels and lipstick or that girls wearing high heels and lipstick cannot be intelligent. says who?

Avatar of: specky1


Posts: 2

June 25, 2012

test message

Avatar of: Redshirt1


Posts: 3

June 25, 2012

This shows that the advertising culture thinks they can solve anything.  The root problem starts much earlier in schools with people espousing ideas such as - "You're a girl - you don't need to know math".  Or with a social peer group that thinks "Dumb and Dumber" is the desired level of social skills.  If people have not noticed there is a distinct lack of social and society rewards for logical thought and critical thnking.  If you want to be popular than your life is perceived as being spontaneous and unplanned - and most certainly unoccupied with the discipline necessary to learn the subjects and organization that provide an underlying foundation for science.

Avatar of: Michael Holloway

Michael Holloway

Posts: 36

June 25, 2012

Is it French?

Avatar of: specky1


Posts: 2

June 25, 2012

I liked this video. To me, it sends the message that chemistry is something that cool, trendy girls like to do (and have fun doing it!), and what young girl does not want to be cool and trendy and do fun things?  I got excited about science as a young girl from watching the comedy “Get Smartâ€쳌—the woman scientist/agent that created all of the cool gadgets for Agent 86 would transform into a glamorous showgirl as her “coverâ€쳌.  Oh boy, that was so appealing--I wanted to be a sexy scientist too!  The juxtaposition of roles totally enthralled me.  And that inspirational role model worked—I got my Ph.D. in chemistry and have had a successful career as a research chemist and occasional professor that is now spanning multiple decades.  Certainly science requires dedication and focus, but we first need to get kids into science classes.  If we cannot get them in the door, we have lost them.  So if this means using cute girls in high heels and short skirts (a la “Charlie’s Angelsâ€쳌) to show that science can be cool and trendy, then I am all for it!

Avatar of: Laura Cloer

Laura Cloer

Posts: 1457

June 26, 2012

Girl science is about make-up. Is that the message?

Avatar of: wlhallan


Posts: 12

July 11, 2012

Looking at the ratio of girls to boys in science at the
college, graduate, or medical school level I do not see a big difference...where I begin to see
it change is in the later parts of the science carrier when family begins to
play a role. Granted that's in the biological sciences...this is probably different for math, physics, chemistry and engineering.

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