Girls Will Love Science If It’s Glittery And Has Makeup!

We can start from an indisputable fact: there is a gender disparity in the sciences. There are simply more men than women in science and this difference becomes even more pronounced in fields like mathematics, physics and engineering.

Just about the only thing that is agreed on about the cause of this disparity is that it is a complex problem with many contributing factors. There are also many different ideas for solutions. Some advocate specific programs addressing the matter from within the scientific fields while others argue that the dominant cause of the disparity are wider societal issues, so solving those problems will naturally lead to a greater gender balance.

These debates are common, and the different sides can get loud and sometimes downright unruly. But everyone involved, and thousands of awe-struck individuals in labs around the world, were rendered speechless by a PSA published by the European Comission:

My first reaction to this was slack-jawed shock. The first words I managed to force out was something like “Whaa? I don’t even… but… what the fuu??!”

I have to hand it to the marketing company that came up with this. Confronted by a generation of young girls who are consistently told that they have to be thin and beautiful and sexy, and implies that makeup and glamour and frivolity are to be the top priority, they come up with an ad that totally confirms those stereotypes as a supposed strategy of attracting more girls to science.

If nothing else, that takes some serious chutzpah.

Science: It's so much nicer with pretty makeup! (via the EC website)

The website attached to this monstrosity seems actually quite good (other than the cringe-inducing title banner), which makes the ad that much more puzzling. Curt Rice, vice president for research and development at the University of Tromsø, took to Twitter to loudly declare that he was on the expert panel for this project along with four women and that their advice was totally ignored. The ad has now been pulled from its official YouTube channel and the responsible entities are busily blaming each other and downplaying the ad itself.

If you wanted to grab attention, EC, congratulations, you did just that. Maybe next time you can do it in a way that doesn’t condescend and insult the very people you are trying to reach.

About Claudia

I'm a lifelong atheist and a molecular biologist with a passion for science and a passionate opposition to its enemies.

  • Maat Agnostic

    I don’t see a problem with it.

    • http://profiles.google.com/nikwarner Nick Warner

      Trolls gonna troll

      • Maat Agnostic

        Not sure why my support of this has to be viewed as trolling- but I share the sentiments of the poster called “C Peterson” above-  This will appeal to many women and girls..  I really see nothing wrong with it unless we say that women and girls who embrace makeup and fashion are to be shunned and science should not be marketed to them..  -_-

        • Alexandra

          I don’t think this is going to appeal to anyone.  Not even the girls and women who take an interest in fashion.  Except for the one at the blackboard, none of them were actually doing anything remotely like science.  It doesn’t even have a clear message.  Are they trying to encourage women to go into developing cosmetics?  Or just that they should wear stilettos to the lab?

          • Maat Agnostic

            I could easily see this as being appealing and interesting..  the colors.. visual..   etc..  capturing the eye of many and seeking them to understand the point..That is.. if I look at this from the perspective of the women/girls I know who would go for this.. 

             It’s not meant to teach them science.. it’s a marketing tool to capture interest..
            Something I see this doing..  Science wrested from the stale..  and placed as something “cool”..  There are science books for preteens that teach chem lab through cosmetics..  It is interesting..  Not for all.. but for some..  NO need to disparage them or act like they don’t exist..  as if science could never be bubble gum fun..

            Science will always be science..  but I could easily see this gives science a useful perspective …

        • Georgina

          Aha – a scientific experiment is just screaming to be made:
          For/against the ad according to gender.

          Hypothesis:
          Men think it will appeal to young women.
          Women think it is bloody awful (not to mention condescending).

          • Maat Agnostic

            It is not appealing to you and others on this thread.  Got it.  I find it condescending to suggest, cosmetics and fashion associated with science to appeal to girls who otherwise might overlook science is a negative stereotype. 

  • Seladora

    As a woman, aspiring scientist and a tomboy without an affinity for makeup, jewelry, and “shiny things”, this ad really irks me.

    • Alexandra

      And as a female scientist who loves jewelry and occasionally wears heels and lipstick to the lab, it irks me too.  Science can be perceived as un-feminine, but videos of women dancing in the lab makes it seem like the lab needs to become more feminine and sexy for women to even want to come into it.

      I’ve found the TV show Bones to be a really awesome delivery for the message that science is interesting and you don’t have to sacrifice your femininity to be a good scientist.  Sometimes Bones wears whatever she feels like that day, and sometimes she dresses up with a nice necklace and a dress, but everyday she gets her shit done and enjoys it.

      This video is just over-the-top to the point where no one likes it.

      • Seladora

        Just for the record, I didn’t mean to imply that females (or even males) with an affinity for makeup & jewelry aren’t scientists! I was only thinking of myself :)

        And of course I agree with all that you’ve said. 

        • Alexandra

          Oh I didn’t think that at all!  I was just riding on your statement to say even the women who enjoy those things hate this ad.  It’s truly an awful ad. 

  • flyb

    I hate it when people call women “girls.”

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      Even when they’re 12 years old?

      • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

        12-year-old girls aren’t women. They’re girls.

        • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          Exactly.

      • flyb

         I’m not sure I have ever thought of a 12 year old girl as a woman.

        In any case, a more effective ad might have shown girls in an elementary school science lab actually doing science stuff and then having each one morph (or something) into their real life women counterparts as described on the website (profiles of women in science). I don’t know what the prancing women in high heels and jump cuts to lipstick are supposed to mean.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Someone thought that was a good idea?  I guess if it gets people to the website to complain, then, maybe…

  • Fargofan

    Why does it make me think of Barbie dolls in a science lab?

    • Sheila G

      Like that Barbie that said, “Math is Hard”.

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    I think the reactions I’m seeing here are visceral, and not entirely rational. This is a good reason that we shouldn’t defund social science research (which looks at things like personal image in children, gender differences, and other important matters).

    I’m no expert in this area, but I wonder how many of the commenters are? The  stereotypes that help define many girls are real. I’ve read studies that make the case these stem from both cultural and biological sources. I certainly don’t know that this advertising strategy isn’t going to be effective, or that any negative components of it outweigh the positive. And because I don’t know… nor do I think anybody knows… I’m prepared to look at this with something of an open mind. What I hope is that this actually gets approached scientifically, meaning somebody tries to really evaluate the successes and failures produced by the campaign.

    One thing I’m pretty sure of: any reinforcement of [negative] stereotypes that this campaign might contribute to is trivial compared to the reinforcements found elsewhere in young girls’ environments. So this approach seems to me to have little risk associated with it, but possibly a very real chance of success.

    • 00100

      While we’re at it, why not just go all the way and let women know that higher education should be left to men only? After all, you seem to support stereotypes, so let’s put women back in the kitchen where they belong!

      • I_Claudia

         I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to accuse someone of bias or ill-intent when he has shown none at all. C Peterson is not advocating keeping women away from higher education or STEM fields, but rather arguing that this ad may be effective at its stated goal, even if it does reinforce stereotypes. I disagree with his evaluation I especially disagree with the invocation of biological differences as an explanation, for reasons a little too complex for a comments section. However I don’t see any wish to put women back in the kitchen” and your accusation that he wishes this is not only unfounded but, in my view, counter-productive.

        He has respectfully presented a set of arguments. If you disagree with them, feel free to counter with your own. Save your sarcastic snaps for the actual trolls, not for the polite dissenters.

        • 00100

          Justifying stereotypes because they support some “greater good” is a classic strategy used by male privilege. Supporting this commercial because it might get women into science is no different than supporting women who stay in the kitchen because it “protects the women.” 

          Even if C. Peterson doesn’t think women should be forced to the kitchen, by condoning stereotypes he’s producing the same effect the kitchen stereotype has: the stifling of expression and creativity. Thus his opinion is effectively no different than the view that women shouldn’t work, or vote. Peterson’s comment should be universally condemned.

          • stojadinovicp

            hmmm… maybe we should have men get pregnant too so that women shouldn’t have to…

            it seems to me that you simply have a problem with evolution and the fact that women and men are simply not the same… I’m sorry that we are not all hermaphrodites, you’re just gonna have to deal with that…

            • 00100

              So you think women should stay in the kitchen because “evolution says so”? Naturalistic fallacy. Learn it.

              • stojadinovicp

                Show me where I said “should”??? Reading. Learn it.

                • 00100

                  You implied that you support C. Peterson’s advocacy of stereotypes because “women and men are simply not the same” due to evolution.

                • stojadinovicp

                   No, i didn’t. I actually didn’t “imply” anything. I sat flat out what I had to say.

                • 00100

                  “it seems to me that you simply have a problem with evolution and the fact that women and men are simply not the same”

                  How is this not implying something? Alright, if there was no implication, then I respond by saying that I have no problem with evolution.

                • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                  Don’t put words in my mouth. I’m not “advocating stereotypes”.

                • 00100

                  You’re advocating the use of stereotypes, which is practically the same. 

                • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                  In my experience, this particular stereotype of girls that age is accurate. That is, a significant percentage of girls could be attracted to this sort of imagery. So using that particular stereotype in designing an advertisement that targets that audience is completely rational. It does not reinforce that sort of thinking in that audience.

                  To argue against advocating the use of stereotypes makes no sense, and flies in the face of reality.

                • 00100

                  Regardless of whether or not it’s useful, it’s still immoral to use stereotypes because using them perpetuates them.

                • 00100

                  Also, I’m just curious, what do you think of advertisements that send the message to women that they can only be sexy if they’re incredibly skinny? Do you likes those ads?

        • stojadinovicp

          Where does this video “reinforce stereotypes”?
          By simply targeting those who are not scientists because it is trying to get them in?
          By not targeting or including those who are already in?

          I also find it interesting to see differences between sexes caused by evolution being labeled as “stereotypes”, that is just……

          There’s a reason why most men prefer women like those in the video, a biologist should know that.

          And, by the way, I am NOT arguing what is “better” or how it “should” be, I am simply stating the obvious. Arguing what is better is like arguing whether it’s better for a lion to be vegetarian…

          Women bare and take care of the children, men bring the freaking meat. Complain to evolution. Now, does that mean it HAS to be that way for everyone or that it should be in any way enforced? HELL NO!

          But following that which is embedded in us does not make it a stereotype. It does not make us chauvinist, it makes us homo sapient. It makes us part of the tree of life. Simple as that.

      • stojadinovicp

        try reading what someone wrote before making a fool of yourself with such straw-man BS… just an idea…

    • SphericalBunny

      FYI, I found a study indicating that using negative ‘girlie’ stereotyping does not help; 
      http://spp.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/03/27/1948550612440735 (summary; 
      http://bps-research-digest.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/girlie-scientist-role-models-could-do.html)

      I tend to agree with you that “any reinforcement of [negative] stereotypes that this campaign might contribute to is trivial compared to the reinforcements found elsewhere in young girls’ environments.”, but that also doesn’t mean it’s at all useful to perpetuate negative gender stereotyping even in a relatively minor way. In fact, you’d’ve thought that a campaign to get more women into science might possibly have looked at how to achieve the goal in a more…scientific way?

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        I’m all for approaching this problem as scientifically as possible. As an educator, I read quite a few papers in good scientific journals (like Science) about new ways of understanding how people think, what drives motivation, how learning works, and lots of other interesting stuff. Social science is really on the verge of becoming a true science, and that has exciting consequences for society. Of course, this happens just as Crank and some of his dim-bulb buddies in Congress seek to remove all NSF funding from the social sciences in the U.S.!

        There are limited studies, of varying quality, looking at problems like the one under discussion here. Even with adequate funding, it’s going to be a while until any sort of consensus develops about effective methodologies. In the meantime, however, we know that the advertising industry has developed some very effective ways of reaching and influencing people. Better we should use some of these approaches to possibly push girls towards STEM than to sell sugary breakfast cereal, IMO. A simple campaign like this serves as a harmless experiment, if nothing else. I don’t think it will push anybody away from science, or reinforce any stereotypes. It might actually work as intended, and should at least provide a few data points for researchers who study these sorts of things formally.

        This is just a PSA… not some massive shift in focus of the education community!

    • Alexandra

      I really don’t understand how a visceral reaction to an advertisement isn’t a completely valid and important.  This ad makes me feel in my gut like girls are being pandered to.  Like look girls, science is cool, it’s pink and has make up!  It’s like an ad to encourage young men to go into nursing that features sweaty guys chopping wood and drinking beer cut with footage of bandages and gurneys.

      The way you try to hook someone into what your selling matters.  This is insulting.  I don’t care if it works, it’s the opposite of the way we want to encourage women to explore their STEM interests. 

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        I don’t think the advertisement is targeting you. Get a bunch of young girls together and see what they think. That would tell us something about its efficacy.

        I’m insulted when a beer commercial assumes I like spending time in front of a TV watching football. But obviously that type of commercial sells beer to a large segment of the market.

        • Alexandra

          My point is it doesn’t matter that it’s not targeted at me. 

          It’s not an empowering message to anyone.  Regardless of whether or not it works, it is not a positive way to convey the message that you can be feminine and a scientist.  We should not want to recruit girls into STEM fields using this method, even if it does work, which I doubt it does.

          I don’t know if you’re just fighting for lols, but it bothers me that you’re not listening to the responses of women who were at one point the target audience of this ad.  I was at one time a teenager girl who wasn’t sure if I was smart enough to do science.  This ad would have felt patronizing to me, not make me feel like yeah!  Science is for me!

          • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

            I think it matters very much that the ad isn’t targeted at you- nor to who you probably were as a young girl, nor to who many of the female posters here were. Most women today who are in STEM fields were pretty jazzed by science, and often math, when they were in middle and high school. That’s great. The problem is the girls of that age who are not. I see them every day. For every 6th-8th grade girl in my class who likes science, there are five or six who really don’t get it- probably twice as poor a showing as for boys. There are a lot of girls who would think this commercial is “cool”. They’d like the graphics, music, and mood of it. At their age, I don’t think they’d be seeing anything like the stereotype you do.

            I don’t know, but it might make them think a little about the message. It’s just a little nudge, and isn’t going to do much without other support as well, but any little push is a positive thing. Not every message needs to be “empowering”. Some just need to be heard.

            You don’t need to agree with me. I don’t know if I’m right, and your view here is certainly a reasonable one (but I don’t know if it’s right, either). But I do think the views I’ve offered are civil and reasonable and open to rational analysis and discussion. The suggestion that I’m “fighting for lols” is rather insulting.

            • Alexandra

              No, I was not jazzed about science as a girl.

              This ad does more harm than good for the perception of women in science.

              The views you have expressed, and which we’re up-voted by many people, are ignoring the input of women who do have insight into why this is bad. That women scientists views are being dismissed as not relevant because we’re adults and alread scientists is incredibly insulting. As women in STEM we have an interest in how women in STEM are perceived and defending this video that degrades us is maddening.

              • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                You are not being objective about this, which was exactly the point of my original comment.

                It is not objective to state as fact that this ad is doing any harm, because you have no evidence of that. Anecdotal opinions of a small, markedly atypical group of women scientists are not very useful. This is nothing more than your unsubstantiated opinion- which is fine, as long as you state it as such.

                Similarly, the fact that you find insult in the suggestion that an actual scientific approach be utilized to determine the efficacy of this and other types of ads intended to engage young girls and increase their interest in science is disturbing.

                If science really is for you, I think you should step back and ask yourself why you are being so anti-science in your analysis of this issue.

                • Alexandra

                  God damn that was douchey.

                  This ad is offensive to women and girls and science.  It doesn’t matter if it works to recruit some girls into science, it’s offensive. 

                  I’m not being anti-science, I’m just highlighting that it doesn’t matter if it makes scientific sense, it is still a negative portrayal of women and therefore it DOES NOT MATTER what the science says about it’s efficacy. 

                • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                  It is offensive in your opinion. If you can’t make your lips or fingers say that, you do not understand rational discourse, and there’s no point in further discussion.

                  You are addressing matters of opinion and value, not fact. My original response suggested that this is something that can properly be addressed in a fact-based way, yet you dismiss that with “DOES NOT MATTER”. That is irrational and unscientific.

                • Alexandra

                  Science is not the end all be all.

                  Advertising is about how it makes people feel.  It doesn’t have to be rational.

  • http://twitter.com/Buffy2q Buffy

    That’s stupid and insulting. 

  • Sheila G

    My daughter will be a junior in the fall, in Mechanical Engineering.  Most of her classes have only 1-3 women in them.  SOMETHING needs to be done, but this ad/website doesn’t address the issue appropriately, in my opinion.

  • Menmenmen

     “We can start from an indisputable fact: there is a gender disparity in the sciences.
    There are simply more men than women in science and this difference
    becomes even more pronounced in fields like mathematics, physics and
    engineering.”

    What about the disparity between number of college degrees granted?  Women make up almost 60% of college graduates – clearly young men are being discriminated against, right? 

    • NoRhythm

       Please realize that that figure refers to all college graduates, not simply those in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and science).

      • Menmenmen

        I’m aware, but I never see government programs, (strident) blog posts, media coverage, “diversity” programs, etc.. to combat this OVERALL gap, which is more important than distribution of college degrees.  

        And I never see anyone claiming that the overall college graduate gap, which again has a far greater impact since a college degree is now required to be upwardly mobile, is indicative of society’s biases against men. 

        • NoRhythm

           First of all, I hardly think that liberal arts degrees should even really count (I kid, I’m double majoring in english currently).

          Second, this “bias against men” that you speak of (I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt here) is only present in places like this that are populated by feminists and other people who give a shit. Note that the job market and k-12 schools are not these places.

          • Menmenmen

            I think you’re missing my point:

            If the gender disparity in STEM degrees stems from societal bias against women and requires all sorts of cultural, political, and social programs to fix, then why isn’t the same coverage and commensurate social engineering applied to the more important gender disparity between the percentage of college graduates?

            [For the record: I don't care about either;  it's just telling that the former gets soooooo much attention and the latter gets absolutely none.]

            • Georgina

               It should be – I would not be surprised if the same pressure brought on girls at school to take up ‘left-brain’ activities; such as languages & arts, is not reflected in the pressure on boys to avoid these subjects.
              Boys: Like art? Become an architect.
              Girls: Like architecture? Become an artist.
               
              Can one fire biased, bigoted or incompetent teachers in America?

    • http://twitter.com/kaileyverse kaileyverse

       Men are also more likely to have higher paying professional careers (Electrician, Carpentry, Auto Repair) that DON’T require an advanced degree. A lot of careers that are women centered (Child care, receptionists, etc) – make a lot less. Women are turning to college to get that edge. Men often don’t need it.

      • Menmenmen

        So one (more important) gender disparity is solely due to the rational decisions of men and the other gender disparity is solely due to a misogynistic society that discriminates against intellectually gender-bending women?

        Got it.

  • Darth Cynic

    Marketers, Satan’s little helpers.

  • LesterBallard

    This isn’t about atheism; just saying’  ;-)

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      Noticed that, did you? Seems to be going around lately.

      • LesterBallard

        But it doesn’t bother me.

        • amycas

           Lol, I think from now on, I’m going to post a “this isn’t about atheism” comment on every thread that’s not related to atheism.

  • Ian Reide

    Ineffably bad/stupid, in every way. 

  • advancedatheist

    This just goes to show the absurdity of the human nature denialism among our elites. A rational world wouldn’t consider women’s lack of interest in science a problem. We get better social outcomes when people specialize in doing the things which organically suit their passions and abilities, not in doing half-heartedly and incompetently what some central planners think they should do.

    • amycas

       Are you saying that women’s lack of interest in science is due to their not being “organically” suited to do science? Or did I just completely misread that…

      Really though, I love science now, and I wish a program that encouraged women to go into scientific fields had been prominent when I was in grade school. It probably could have gotten me to be more passionate about the subject. As it was, English, history and the social sciences were pushed* on me, and that’s where I developed my skills.

      *I don’t mean this in a negative way

    • Anon

      I would totally support your idea but unfortunately it requires a world where the absolute only reason for not doing something is that you don’t like it rather than social pressure, stereotypes, gender roles etc. If you’re lucky enough to live in a place where this is possible then that’s awesome but it needs to be universal.

  • Guest

    Whaaaaaat the bloody hell was that.

    Honestly, the problem isn’t even that it appeals to girls through the use of glittery makeup and shiny colors. I don’t go in for that, but some do, so whatever. The problem is that it has absolutely NOTHING to do with science. It could have had the girls actually performing science, instead of scrawling things on a blackboard. The girls could have talked about what they like about science. It could have showed them actually working on projects. Instead . . . they dance and pose at the camera. WEIRDLY. It didn’t have a damn thing to do with actual science.

    It’s not saying “Hey, science is pretty cool, it’s not just for guys and you can be a feminine scientist if you want”. It’s saying . . . well, it’s not saying anything. It’s just a bunch of random-ass clips spliced with pictures of girls dancing around. Frankly,  if it weren’t for the last 5 seconds, I would have thought it was an ad for an ENTIRELY different, very bizarre type of service.

    • Jen

      This. I’m a woman. I’m a PhD-level scientist: a researcher in an academic biomed lab. I wear skirts to work in hot weather, makeup, jewelry, and am a total magpie around fun, brightly colored things. None of that has anything to do with why I am a scientist, nor should it. It is of critical importance that we encourage girls to pursue their scientific interests and make the scientific community welcoming to all who demonstrate interest, passion, ethics, and willingness to work hard in pursuit of their scientific goals. I cannot see how this video accomplishes those things. If anything, it seems more like an ad to attract boys: “Look! Become a scientist and sexily dressed young women will dance for you!” No thanks. Fail.

      • Onamission5

        Re: your last comment, that was my thought, too. For an ad which is purported to target science minded girls, it really has nothing to do with girls actually learning about or women participating in a meaningful way in science, and is much more like a weird tv ad for modeling cosmetics? Because all the 12 year old girls I know just love being treated as though they are image obsessed and shallow, and being talked down to by people who think they’re trying to relate to them. Because they love being told they can be anything they want to be so long as they’re also primarily sexy and available. Because they don’t get enough of that message from practically every other source in their lives already at the age of 12. Because headdesk.

      • Menmenmen

        You wear skirts, makeup, and jewelry to work in a lab?!?!  Is the lab inside a nightclub?

         

        • Pisk_A_Dausen

          You live in a world where this combo exists only in nightclubs? Where is it, I want to move there! I’m fed up with hearing that skirts, makeup and jewellery is a minimum effort equivalent to shaving for men.

    • Maat Agnostic

      It’s marketing.  Not a science class.  Marketing is sometimes subtle, subliminal and artistic.  I got it.  My daughter got it.  Others will too.  The problem is that some people are offended by lipstick and fashion associated with science.  Presumably they’ve worked real hard to be taken seriously and they think these things do not make it easy.  Unfortunately, there are a plethora of girls out there who don’t see these things as a detriment and a new wave of women and girls are out there showing the world that smart does not mean disassociated from beauty.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Ugh. If ads have stupid awards, this will get the Oscar. 

    At the end of my science presentations for kids, sometimes a girl will come up to me with extra questions after the Q and A. I always take the time to answer any kid who has extra questions. The girl is usually very curious and very earnest. After answering her questions as best I can,  I ask her if she’s interested in becoming a scientist. If she says yes, I look her right in the eye with an expression that says  I’m an adult who’s clearly taking her seriously.  I reply, “Good! If that’s what you want, then go for it, and don’t let anyone talk you out of it!  It can be a very satisfying walk of life.”  Often a look will come across her face that I’d call validation, affirmation, and empowerment. I glance up and her mother will have an expression of mostly gratitude and a little surprise.

    Leaving scientists in my wake one individual, unique kid at a time.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1527623930 Melissa Williams

      As the mother of 3 daughters, I appreciate that. Thank you. 

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      I teach science in a middle school classroom. In that environment, it is possible to tailor any response to a student’s question to that individual- obviously the best scenario. But no advertising campaign can do that. When you seek to influence a large population, it is perfectly rational to consider the characteristics of that population- that’s what a stereotype is! There is nothing intrinsically wrong about the idea of a stereotype- it is generally rooted in some fundamental truths about groups.

      My earlier objection was to commenters who seemed so focused on the idea that stereotypes are bad that they failed to consider the possibility that this advertising campaign could actually have a net positive value.

      There is a big difference between reinforcing a stereotype and using a stereotype to understand how some population is likely to respond to something. Reinforcement (as demonstrated in Amanda’s posting about the religious modesty training) is a form of behavior modification, and I think most of us here would consider it generally negative. But simply recognizing that your typical teen girl will respond to certain kinds of music, imagery, or other factors and using that to reach them seems perfectly acceptable.

      I don’t know if this campaign will work. But I credit its creators with applying some original thinking in trying to deal with a problem that affects everyone. To call it (or them) stupid is unfair and premature.

      • Onamission5

        I don’t know that I can call pandering to gendered stereotypes original thinking, though. I do know that when I was younger I got very tired of my interests being pinkified, Barbied and glitterized whenever someone noticed that girls were paying attention, or wanted girls to pay attention.

        There’s probably a million other ways to get the attention of 12 year old girls. Making something pink and glittery and promoting gendered stereotypes is the easiest for advertisers, maybe, but is it really the most effective?

        • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          I don’t know how effective it is. That’s why I suggested it might be treated as a useful experiment. It is demonstrably effective at selling some things to girls that age; I would not be in the least surprised if the approach couldn’t catch the attention of a lot of girls who’d never pay attention to other commercials. If so, that could be gauged a success.

          Again, it’s just a PSA. It isn’t like science for girls is presented in schools this way. It’s only a hook.

      • 00100

        1. Using is the same as reinforcing.
        2. Stereotypes are not necessary rooted in truth in any way. For example, women not being as smart as men is an unsupported stereotype as far as I’m aware. Most Irish aren’t alcoholics, most muslims aren’t usually terrorists, etc.

        • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          No, using is certainly not the same as reinforcing. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with stereotypes- in many cases they accurately represent key characteristics of some population. They can be very useful- as long as they are reasonably accurate, and as long as whoever is using them remembers that they apply to a population, not individuals.

          • 00100

            Stereotypes are intrinsically wrong because they pigeonhole people into categories that they may not fit in, reducing expression. They can also be offensive to the population that’s being stereotyped. Lastly, they can lead  to discrimination and even genocide in extreme cases. And you’re gonna tell me that they’re fine and dandy? For goodness sake, as a guy I can’t even show my emotions around my own family because they consider it “weak,” which I hate. I think you need to reevaluate your view of stereotypes and the harm they cause.

            Also I’ve already shown that stereotypes are often wrong. So they may not even be useful. Not that being useful means they’re okay anyway. 

          • Reed Walt

            As an atheist you should know better than to say that stereotypes are good and correct. Need I remind you how atheists are often viewed? lol

            • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

              How is that? Biblically immoral, educated, liberal, intellectuals? I’d say that stereotype is accurate. It describes the majority of atheists I know.

              In the case of those who have a problem with atheists, it isn’t so much that their stereotype is wrong, but rather that they consider its elements to be negatives, while we consider them to be positives.

  • NoRhythm

     What I would like to see, rather than a PSA (even a far better one than this), are more school programs aimed at getting young girls (or any kids for that matter) interested in science.
    Giving these kids some first hand experience of what science is and what it can accomplish will do more to get them excited about science than any of these videos will.

    • Georgina

       Recent research in central Europe shows that girls are actually ahead of boys in science and math during their elementary school years.
      This changes with puberty. The children do not need to be appealed to, the teachers of these subjects need to be ordered to treat male and female pupils as intelligent until proved incapable.
      The actual bias comes from male math teachers and male science teachers, who are rude, sarcastic and put the girls down. 

      Having had a number of arguments with teachers who laugh at the idea of female scientists and assume that any that there are have achieved their position through sexual rather than cognitive prowess, I feel that showing made up women dancing through a lab while a man does the actual work can only be harmful. 

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        I don’t think it’s a recent conclusion.  I was a Computer Science TA in the late 80/early90s and at more than one talk/conference heard that same thing- girls are equal to or better than boys in math/science  up until about 13/14, and then large numbers of girls don’t continue.

        The actual bias comes from male math teachers and male science 

        I highly suspect that female math and science teachers are just as biased.    This isn’t a male plot, it’s a societal dysfunction.  IMO anyway.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    … that was just weird. It comes off the same as teachers who try to act hip and express the class curriculum through rap. The theory of engaging kids through something they understand and enjoy looks good on paper but is just awkward when followed through.

  • stojadinovicp

    So, Claudia does not see herself belonging to the girls in the video, obviously, so she has to bitch and whine about it… this article is simply pathetic… And then we have the sheep among us simply following suit with the “how dare they” BS… again, pathetic…

    I freaking LIKE the above video, IT’S FUN and, you know what, IT’S GIRLY! And don’t make me quote Dawkins “if you don’t like it……”

    Is it really necessary to explain why their target audience is not women who are already scientists but rather girls like those in the video who are not? Why the hell would they want to target those who are already in?

  • Hibernia86

    I agree with Claudia’s post. Rather than try to be stereotypical, we should just show people of both genders participating in science in the commercials aimed at students. We can try to come up with similar strategies to help more girls into the sciences and more boys into college in general.

  • http://patheos.com/blogs/confessionsofapagansoccermom/ krisbradley

    I just showed this ad to my 13 year old daughter, who couldn’t give a crap about makeup, but does have a favorite planet and a favorite math problem.  Her reaction was a thing to behold.  

    I don’t know who they thought they were targeting with this ad (it was probably more successful with 13 year old boys), but they certainly failed in a spectacular way.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Little/565071363 Paul Little

       Your question is on point. Who were they targeting with this ad? Girls who are already interested in science…? Or maybe it was actually targeted at the other 99% of the population. As an advertiser, if I’m trying to sell something, my target audience is hardly THOSE WHO ALREADY OWN IT.

  • http://twitter.com/kaileyverse kaileyverse

    I have BS in chemistry, I did undergraduate research at my small home institution where the majority of my peers in science were women – but only 2 of my chemistry professors were female and one of them left after my freshman year (and Bio was our major science track, my graduating class had I think 6 BS in Chem and a BA). When I graduated there was one female professor of the 7 in the department. My research group was small – 4 of us total, 3 women and 1 man. In this environment I felt comfortable (it was my home institution and I had known my adviser for 2 years previously) – but I did have male peers in classes (Especially when I skipped up to Physical Chemistry as a sophomore and doubled up on organic at the same time) who I read as feeling threatened by my being there.

    I also did research at the University of Minnesota in a summer science program – I was one of two woman in my 15+ person research group (other  a post-doc from Korea). I felt very much like an outsider as a young woman. I remember once commenting on one of my research groups HNMR analysis showing him that his assessment of the structure could be different than what he predicted based on the shifting and coupling of the spectra – and he generally dismissed it in a way that I have never seen anyone do before – and deferred to the analysis of his male peers (Even though I turned out to be RIGHT).

    I love science, and I left largely due to the fact that I didn’t want to spend my time in labs where I would be treated like an idiot because I am a woman.

  • Jim Thomason

    Once again, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal is apropos:

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=1962

    • Alexandra

      This is exactly right!  Weinersmith always has excellent insight and makes them neat little lols.

      Science isn’t feminine, but it’s not masculine either.  Science should be accessible to all genders and shouldn’t be part of what defines your femininity/masculinity.

      We shouldn’t be making math and science pink and sparkly, we should be emphasizing that gender shouldn’t be a dominate influence in your interest in math and science. 

      It’s one thing to make STEM seem sexy, and another to make it seem gendered.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Neil deGrasse Tyson just tweeted this, along with his preferred alternative https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BI2m3QoaS8

  • http://www.facebook.com/anthonyjwmoss Tony Moss

    What were they THINKING!?


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