Science! It’s A Girl Thing! (?!?@#%!*???)

Ahhh… ffftttt… wha?

From Science Punk:

It seems to assume that it’s impossible for women to be interested in chemistry unless it’s in the context of cosmetics, or biology except insomuch as fashion… I implore you to engage earnestly and fruitfully with the European Commission to make sure the next project like this isn’t lipstick activism.

Mind, I’ve noticed this is their first video after that one… which somehow includes a shopping expedition…

But I rather like Iris the physics student – at least this seems more relevant than ‘suddenly going shopping’:

EDIT – another one – how about travel, and science as an ‘international language’? Not so bad…

Okay, I’ll write more, when I’ve put my dropped jaw back together… and when I go dig out more on related research on role models and women I’ve read about here (My Fair Physicist? Feminine Math and Science Role Models Demotivate Young Girls) in the blogpost called Girlie scientist role models could do more harm than good:

This research focused on girls at middle-school and it’s important to note that the same findings may not apply to older teens or college students. No doubt some readers will also smart at the way femininity or girlieness was conceived in this study, potentially perpetuating unhelpful gender stereotypes. For now, Betz and Sekaquaptewa cautioned: “Submitting STEM role models to Pygmalion-style feminine makeovers may do more harm than good.”

Actually, Petra Boynton just said it shorter on Twitter:

Petra Boynton ‏@DrPetraFeaturing real women scientists talking about their work but hiding them behind a naff/sexist advert loses your message and is disingenuous.

About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.

  • ischemgeek

    Shopping?

    Please tell me they’re shopping for lab kit, at least.

    • Kylie Sturgess

      No. It’s some kind of boutique. I actually liked the look of her office, that was more interesting. What was the award that was prominent on her desk, for example, why didn’t they tell us about that?

      • ischemgeek

        … I hate stuff like this patronizing BS.

        I have a chemistry degree, and am < 3 mo away from finishing my Master's… and if I wear clothes like that in the lab, I'm courting time in a burn unit. No thanks.

        Lab coats, long pants, close-toed shoes, and safety goggles might not look pretty, but I'm not here to be eye-candy. I'm here to work.

  • AnonComment

    I never quite understood the importance of having same-sex role-models: at least to me it has always been a completely trivial (unchosen) trait. I’ve had and have role models of various sex and gender affiliations.

    • ischemgeek

      When there’s a mold people expect you to fit into, it’s easier to let yourself not fit into it if there’s someone you admire that also doesn’t fit in a similar way.

      If we get to a point where gender doesn’t matter, the gender of a role model won’t matter either. But, for now, girls who are interested in ‘ungirly’ things face pushback. I was in high school less than ten years ago, and in school, I was told things like “A girl’s place isn’t in science,” and “Boys are just better at math because they’re more logical,” and “Pff, you can’t go into science – you’re a girl!”, and “Science, eh? That’s cute,” and “The only reason a girl should go to college is to get a husband.” This despite me having the highest marks in math and science in my entire grade. Some of that BS came from my parents (the “men are more logical” stuff, for example, plus the fact that they always told me that for a girl, I was good at math and science – the implication being that on a head-to-head comparison with boys, I wouldn’t be that good. Even though I damn well am).

      Know what kept me truckin’ on? My math teacher, who was a woman. My physics teacher, also a woman. A science camp I went to, where all the counselors were science graduate students, and I could talk to actual women in science. I could see these women who put lie to all the nasty stereotypes others were trying to impose on me. That matters because when you’re bombarded with a message of “People like you can’t do this,” you can’t just look up Jane Goodall or Dorothy Hodgkin or whoever. It’s not good enough to just read about them, you have to see and talk with people who prove it wrong to prevent you from absorbing those messages so much you get discouraged and quit.

      • Kylie Sturgess

        I’m in the process of a follow-up blogpost – for my own part, the people who have inspired me have been role models of both sexes.

  • AnonComment

    For that matter, I am still not quite sure either what exactly feminine or masculine is supposed to be, and why people even pursue these things.

    You’re a good individual, or not. I do not really see how you can or are supposed to be a good of whatever sex/gender you are on top of that.

    It’s so meaningless.

  • plutosdad

    Some research suggests these are counter-productive. Though this could be short-term priming, still …

    http://www.good.is/post/does-computer-engineering-barbie-discourage-girls-from-pursuing-math-and-science

  • Sethra

    It’s so meaningless.

    It would be meaningless if people didn’t automatically make lists comprised almost entirely of men when it comes to scientific research, literature, etc. I have a number of role models, but I do pay attention to just how much people seem to gloss over/ignore the contributions of women.

    For example, here’s an article about teenagers who’ve come up with some nifty and useful inventions. What do you notice about this list?

    http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/06/19/7-amazing-teenage-inventors/

    Apparently, only boys invent things. I didn’t know that. One of these is a clip-thing that holds a baseball bat, glove, and ball on a bike. I’m sure that’s great for kids who play baseball, but what about the teenager who developed a nanoparticle that kills cancer cells? Why isn’t she on this list?

    Gender and color will be meaningless when people stop being exclusionary based on specific characteristics.

    • Kylie Sturgess

      “Science. It’s a people thing.”

      • sciencebulldog

        I like that, I may steal that slogan :)

        • Kylie Sturgess

          Attribute it to me – and it’s yours to ping to your heart’s content!

      • Sethra

        “Science. It’s a people thing.”

        LOVE it!

  • sciencebulldog

    I like the idea of trying to expand science to under-represented groups, but wow. That first video reminds me of the Dr. Evil quote from Austin Powers, “You just don’t get it do you…”. :) How many stereotypes can you fit in under a minute. And really, a guy in a lab coat and glasses looking into a microscope, and beakers…can we also move away from the scientist stereotype a little as well.

  • Josh

    I will preface this by saying that the commercial seems really cheesy and unlikely to have the intended effect. Furthermore, it rankles me personally. However, I also know personally some female scientists with whom I’ve worked very closely before and who have lamented to me that they don’t identify completely with the stereotype of the lab-coat-clad, stern, “mannish” female scientist. They like to go shopping, and do so regularly. They enjoy fashion and makeup and going to get manicures and pedicures. Despite my own lack of understanding for such hobbies, I cannot deny that they are brilliant scientists as well. So, I caution that perhaps my (and perhaps some of your) gut reaction to this advertisement is that isn’t not designed for people like us, but rather for people like them. Different strokes for different folks, maybe? Just an idea. Again, I don’t like the ad and am doubtful it would work, but then there are dozens of ads per hour of television that don’t work on me because I’m not who they were designed to work on.

  • Josh

    Update: I shared this link with some friends, including some female scientists, in the hopes of getting their feedback. The original link at the top of this post has been set to private, Kylie. Apparently they didn’t like the negative feedback they were getting. Here’s a reposting of the same thing someone made after the original was hidden: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g032MPrSjFA

  • Pingback: Science Tidbits for June 21 and 22, 2012 « Teaching Sapiens

    • http://teachingsapiens.wordpress.com Robert B

      I am bad at speling.

      • Kylie Sturgess

        It’s okay – thanks for mentioning the podcast! Next ep should be with an educator!

        • http://teachingsapiens.wordpress.com Robert B

          I’ll keep an eye out for it!

  • Pingback: Sunday Morning Survey – What Skeptical Topic Gets Your Goat? #ScienceGirlThing | Token Skeptic


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