A campaign to attract women into science run by the European Commission has run into hot water over sexist imaging and stereotyping. The charges relate to a video linked to the campaign called “Science: It’s a Girl Thing.”
The campaign launched by the European Commission (EC) to promote an increased participation of women, and to reduce the gender gap, within the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, has come under criticism.
The strap line for the campaign runs “Want to save lives? Keen to find out what's lurking in the nether regions of space, or in the deepest ocean trench? Passionate about the environment!”
The promotional video, which lasts for about a minute, features female models in high heels and short skirts (the women are not themselves employed as scientists). In the video a male scientist is seen watching the women perform with apparent ‘interest’ in the women’s dancing.
ScienceInsider described the video as “so chock-full of clichés that viewers might be forgiven for thinking it a parody.” However, the EC’s spokesperson for research, innovation, and science Michael Jennings said in a tweet that “Commission doesn’t really do irony.”
The video has received a strongly negative reaction on YouTube, with over 3,000 dislikes and only a few hundred likes. A similarly poor reaction has been experience on Twitter. At one point the video had been removed from YouTube, although it has since been restored.
Time will tell whether the video does indeed attract more women into science across Europe. The general reaction, however, suggests that the strategy has been a failure on this occasion.