Backlash over 'girl thing' science video

Mon, Jul 2, 2012, 01:00

Sir, – I refer to the report “Science ‘girl thing’ video sparks backlash” (Home News, June 23rd).

The video, launched by the EU Research Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, is an embarrassment and reflects how out of touch she is with science and the scientific community. Her claim that it is necessary to “overturn cliches and show women and girls (and boys too!) that science is not about old men in white coats” is not just ageist but further evidence of her lack of understanding of the scientific world and clearly also that of the official spokesman for media communication referred to in your report.

A young leading female computer science graduate who first brought the video to my attention described it as “pathetic”, adding that stilettos, short skirts, lipstick, nail polish and pink background as illustrated in the video had little or nothing to with attracting students of either sex to science. But if her opinion is wrong, will this mean that “old men in white coats” (presumably professors), when next advertising for a postdoctoral research fellow with an internationally visible track record of research, will also have to specify new dimensions for skyscraper heels, loud lipstick and even shorter skirts, etc?

And one wonders if the chief scientific adviser to the Government will be happy with the Commissioner’s video as the Dublin City of Science/Euroscience Open Form opens in July. – Yours, etc,

Prof JIM HEFFRON, MRIA,

Department of Biochemistry,

University College Cork.