Backlash over 'girl thing' science video

 

Sir, – The European Commission’s women in science promotional video (Marie Boran, Home News, June 23rd) has concerned and angered me for a number of reasons.

First, if image is the only thing stopping a potentially successful female scientist from pursuing a research career, then that young woman needs to take a long hard look at her priorities. If it requires a 60-second pop video to influence a major life decision, then there is something seriously wrong with the European education system.

Second, the creators of the “Science: It’s a Girl Thing” video clearly only considered the people they thought this video would attract. And no doubt there is a (hopefully very small) minority who would find this style of video appealing (the official spokesman for media communication on behalf of the commissioner suggests the target audience is 13-17 year old girls).

The major problem, however, is that they failed to consider the many other people who would be appalled by the video. Those of us who are serious scientists and – regardless of whether or not we wear heels, spend our hard-earned money on clothes or wear make-up – are professional workers who have both passion and respect for our research careers.

Another side-effect of this video is the affect it could have on some male attitudes (I stress “some” as most men I work with have 100 per cent respect for female colleagues). It makes a joke out of women in science. Oh science can be about make-up and fashion? Why didn’t somebody tell me? Add a splash of bubblegum pink to the lab and suddenly we gals realise that science is fun!

They took the female stereotypical past-times – fashion and make-up – and assumed that they would entice young women into science. The stereotypical man likes beer, football and half-naked women. How many men do you know make major career decisions based on these factors?

Do you see these factors mentioned in campaigns encouraging men into nursing careers? The European Commission should have used the money spent on that campaign to address the real issues women face when pursuing long-term science careers. – Yours, etc,

Dr ANTOINETTE FENNELL,

Sion Hill,

Blackrock,

Co Dublin.