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.

Jun 25, 2012
Jef Akst


"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."