Getting Women into Science, EU Directive

All my wonderful lady friends (I'm talking to the non sciency bods here) I need your help.

Please watch the video below and leave a comment on my blog page (at the bottom of this page) letting me know what you think of the video (giving your current job - you don't need to leave your name). Does it make you want to work in science?

Update 18.7.12

Thanks for all the comments! I  forwarded them on to the EU commission that produced the video. They did receive quite a response to the video from across the globe, and a few 10000 blog posts!! Here are a few reflections  -

Science, a people thing - I think this is the blog post I agreed with the most 

From the Guardian - Science: it's a girl thing! A viral fiasco

New Statesman

Huffington Post (UK)  - they ask 'is the video sexist?'

Wall Street Journal - describe it as a porn film

They did take the video down, and here is the website now -


  1. This is the last thing on earth that would make me want to become a scientist. It is so commercialised and focused on good looking attractive "girls" that it could quite easily put some young girls off!

  2. As h85v says, if anything this would have made me go 'oh look another place where all the shiny happy people are' at 15. I think even then I would have gone THAT'S NOT WHAT SCIENCE LOOKS LIKE!! For me this would just reinforce that male scientists thought I was silly and ditzy and not a real scientist!

  3. This would have in no way motivated me as a child. I was interested in science because I wanted to be a vet and I liked the outdoors. I never became a vet but that interest never left. If anything this would have made me consider a different career path!

  4. I actually find the video quite annoying and as the two people above mention it is too focused on superficiality. It seems more like an advertisement for make up.

  5. Hmm. Annoying music, and I don't think anyone has said "it's a girl thing" in a convincing manner since about 1997. It didn't seem like anyone was *doing* much science except maybe that bloke with the microscope. If I thought that science was pouting and giggling, I might be convinced. However, even from age 12 it is clear that science involves bunsen burners, writing a lot of plans of what you are going to do, and then watching them happen (or fail to happen): not so much falling laughingly into my attractive and be-heeled colleagues - none of who have yet hit 20, it would seem. Also, there were a lot of pictures of lipstick. The only people I know who have jobs in the cosmetics industry are boys who do engineering on great big pressy-stampy-how-do-we-get-this-power-to-stick-together machines.

  6. I've just written about this over at my place. In summary: furious. I'm an author, if I had seen this as a teen it would have had exactly the same impact on me.

  7. Sorry: an additional point. I foresee the effect of this advert will be to entice people with no aptitude for science (ie ones stupid enough to think this is a meaningful representation of ANY job, let alone a science job), both creating personal failures for them and reinforcing an idea that girls won't be good at it. Looks more and more like sabotage to me!

  8. Ye gods, this made me want to 1)cry, and 2) hang up my lab coat

  9. I hate everything about this video. I serioulsy can't believe they used nail polish and make up as a way of selling science to young women - notice the use of the words young woemn and not girls. I'm also saddened by the fact the male scientist only looks up from his microscope because the female scientists are being "sexy" and "girlish" instead of on their intellectual merit. Horrible horrible ad campaign.

  10. I thought this was some sort of make-up advert... PLEASE do not tell me it's some sort of goverment initiative to promote science! I don't think this could be further away from portraying lab-based research if it tried. How would they promote it to men - razors and aftershave???

  11. I am so shocked, I thought it was a joke, a parody. No? Wow. Firstly, as if you can work with dangerous chemicals in high heels. And what is with the lipstick?! I'm furious too. It's disgraceful.

    I wonder if there were any women in science interviewed in the research for making this ad. Was there any research done?

    I am a data analyst BTW. I studied science at university but don't work in it now.

  12. ermm, this would put me off. it's false advertising of what working in science is like, and ever so slightly sexist. why do they think they have to include lots of make-up and pink to get girls involved? do they not deem us intelligent enough to choose to take the path because we'd like to go into science, not because an advert had pink and girls prancing around. It also undermines the concept of science and working in science, making it seem like people just giggling and fannying around with make-up all day. If any girls go into science due to this advert they'll be highly disappointed.

  13. 16 yrs old, just done GCSEs. It is disgusting.

  14. So apparently science for girls = cosmetics.

    I'm also disturbed that the 'scientists' in the video were too busy pouting and posing to keep an eye on the test tubes. I'm pretty sure accuracy is important when performing tests.

    While humour can be used to great effect in promotional materials I feel that only works when the material is actually funny. Surely a more inspirational approach would have been more attractive to everyone?!

    I work in Careers - I sincerely doubt we'll be using this with our students!

  15. All of the imagery of makeup and pigments screams "Don't take this video seriously", and I can't imagine this having the desired outcome.

  16. My 12 year old and I cannot believe there continue to be such social and sexualused stereotyping of young women. Appalled does not even begin to cover it.
    Applied scientist and intelligent daughter

  17. My first response to the video? < tone="sardonic" > haha. what.< /tone >

    Obviously the video is doing a great job provoking a response and getting a buzz going around the campaign. The other sciencegirlthing youtube videos might have actually inspired me to pursue a career in the sciences, if I were watching them as a teenager (despite the fact that they still use the questionable "girly" branding to close each vid). Of course, watching this rather silly video is what got me to watch their other videos in the first place...

    I'm a digital assets manager/digital archivist.

  18. It might work quite well as a recruitment aid to get teenage boys into science. If they can stop wanking long enough to apply to university.

  19. I feel sooooo angry watching this.
    I'm a therapist, but I'm definitely interested in science - loved it in school, try to keep up with it informally since.
    Why do they think that for something to appeal to women it has to be 'sexy' or about makeup and fashion??

    I'm actually at a loss to figure out what the message is here. Is it
    a) You thought women in science were frumpy or nerdy? Well don't worry - they're sexy!!
    b) You thought that science wasn't for you because you're a woman? Well don't worry - science is used in make-up and fashion!!
    c) You thought science was too difficult? Well don't worry - it's kind of pink and giggly and...lipstick!!

    Everything about it is just so, so awful. I actually feel like it has set the cause back decades...

  20. Being a scientist myself, i felt i might be biased with my opinion - so I asked a girl who is an intern at work to watch it and tell me whether the video would inspire her to become a scientist. She said: "is this a joke? I would never thing to become a scientist after watching it. The only thing it said to me is that you have to be tall, skinny, beautiful , wear fashion clothes and makeup so the dude behind the microscope can check me out. and where is the science in this video?"
    so this is an unbiased opinion of an administrative intern.
    (who is btw - very attractive, smart, young woman)
    I am afraid that this is just another video promoting everything that is wrong with the teenager image in the media and nothing to do with science.
    It is harmful, ridiculous, FAKE and just plain stupid. I can't believe that EU actually spent money on this.
    Not a single, respectable lab in the world would allow a BIMBO in high heels on their premises. And if anyone of the video producers took the time to actually go to the lab and talk to the female scientist - they would know - nail polish and long nails - almost non-existent when you have to wear gloves all day long....

  21. Two potentially damaging results of this video

    1) If there is a problem of institutional sexism in science, or of people not taking women in science seriously, and then they watch this video, all it does it confirm every stereotype they would have had!!

    2) The anger about the video may cause a backlash against women in science who DO wear lipstick and heels, when it should be beyond irrelevant. (like the 'bimbo' comment above)

  22. In school they make us right methods before we do anything and we have to know stuff like maths so I don't really like it so I had not though I could have a job doing it. In this video it looks fun though. I would like to do science if I could do make up and perfume and things and wear designer safety glasses. I am not sure if I am pretty enough though because I have frizey hair.

  23. So I am an Account Planner, meaning I see a lot of advertising work and the thing that jumped out to me here was that the brief was probably something like 'we want to appeal to girls so make us an ad that shows how science can appeal to a female audience by making it look more fun' now, if I am honest I didn't hate it - it was a little cheesy but what it made me think about was how as a non science person, science is not just all about white coats and labs but instead is impactful in everything I do. So they were a little lazy, and they have taken a stereotype and used it to promote science. What they need is an insight - where does the male stereotype come from? Why do people think nurses are men? Because of things like L'oreal..'here comes the science bit' 'girls' know that there is science behind the things we use, could buy etc and that Science isnt just for the boys and this is a relatively soft approach to dealing with the fact they want more women in science. I feel there are much better ways to execute this, as the insight is that you can be super feminine (like clothes, makeup) and still into science - this ad is meant for a younger audience in my mind, to make them think science COULD be for them. I dont think it's to be taken too seriously - it's not about wearing heels in the lab, its saying you everything we do has a basis in science.

  24. Best thing about this is the unanimous response that it is indeed a really stupid ad!!!
    The constant reducing of women to how sexy they can look is a source of constant frustration and this ridiculous trailer perpetuates the myth that all we care about is looking like a clone in high heels.
    It is the last thing any normal teenager needs to see - it will just contribute to the already epidemic body image issues and may even put some really intelligent and sensible young women off a carer in science.
    I'm a nutritional therapist.

  25. I do want to say I totally understand all the comments on here about how it was superficial (almost like a music video) and can see why people are pissed off with it. In my mind, as above, this is lazy work and having seen their other videos (like mentioned by caitlenfa the digital manager) it made me more aware that the initiative existed.

  26. Is this a spoof? If it had been a sketch on Spank the Pony it would have been the funniest thing on that forlorn show. Sad. Gill P

  27. This appears more like an advert for the TV programme 'Beauty and the Geek', or are they saying only beautiful bimbo type females can be useful in science (if only to give the men something to look at!)?
    Not really the right advert to promote science to young ladies is it?
    I'm a disabled community artist btw.

  28. did the sugababes get back together??

  29. I'm a scientist/engineer myself, and this reminds me too much of a Barbie commercial - a negative things, as I never liked Barbies at all.
    Plus, do we really need these cliches about women?

  30. The idea that attractive women who take care in their appearance can't do science is almost as damaging as the video which suggests it's only about appearance. I'm a female scientist. I put effort into my appearnce, I have blonde hair and I wear nice (but lab appropriate) clothes, sometimes I wear a small heel and I wear make up and nail varnish. They aren't incompatible - as long as you don't apply make up in a lab there's nothing wrong with wearing it. As long as you think about it (nothing dangly, no open toes, long hair tied back, nails blunt enough to not damage gloves or hinder dexterity, if you work with animals all jewellery removed before entering the room etc.). I've seen more people ridiculing women who take pride in their appearance in response to this video than anything else and this shouldn't be the point. The point is, there shouldn't be stereotypes - women in science can be as successful as men and women of *all* kinds can be successful and smart regardless of how they look or dress.

  31. I'm a female 3rd year geophysics student who has always been cynical.

    I've watched the video a few times now, and the first watching confused me- I didn't know what they were trying to get across. It's unbelievably sexist even leaving the 'science' bit out of the argument! Obviously some women are really into clothes, make-up etc, but for the EU team behind this to apply this stereotype to all young women in Europe is... words fail me. True, there's nothing wrong with wearing nice clothes and make-up in the lab if they're safe.

    I'm not sure what their brief was, but if it was to break current stereotypes I see what they did- throw out the stereotype of frumpiness and lab coats etc and replace with a more popular image of women. Unfortunately this has just reinforced a different stereotype- that of young women being good-looking and interested only in all things 'girly'.

  32. This is insulting to women in science, who apparently just whip together a few liptsicks and write on perspex boards like they're in an episode of CSI.
    If the women depicted here are supposed to be aspirational then that's a fail write off the bat. If you're going to make tarts out of scientists then at least dress them well, rather than like they've stepped back into the nineties and the Sugababes are indeed back!
    As a marketer, I also take offence to the lack of story. I don't even get what the message is. This is just a mash up of some bad models strutting to bad music intermixed with some fake science wizardry, with no apparent link.
    Surely they could have found a better story about mapping genomes or developing cures for diseases, something actually worthwhile. Don't get me wrong, I like lip gloss and mascara as much as the next girl and they do indeed transform my sleepy appearance into something suitable for human interaction. Somebody's got to do it. But what I take offence to is unrealistically glamorising something much more substantial.

  33. I just find it both funny and confusing at the same time. And no, I dont think it helps promote woman to do science...

  34. The video doesn't play for me. It gives the message "this video is private." Is that because I'm in the US?

    1. Hi Jan,

      I think they might have removed the video. I am going to follow up the post with the reaction to the video, which was a bit overwhelming!

  35. I cannot believe this isn't a parody.

    The outfits? Very unlikely to be appropriate workplace attire in any scientific or engineering workplace, unless the women are in were in sales and not required to wear steel-capped shoes, lab coats and other personal protective equipment. Walking around and posing in sexy outfits and heels and sunnies is NOT working in science.

    The leering looks from both the man and the women? A sexual harrassment lawsuit waiting to happen. It suggests that it's OK for men to judge their female colleagues based on their physical appearance, and that it's OK for women to encourange this behaviour. It's demeaning to the rest of us women who are not physically attractive, do not wear heels, and have been fighting for years to be judged for the work we actually do.

    If this ad is truly aimed at pre-teen and teenage girls, then it's just as guilty of sexualising a younger generation as a provocative ad for a clothing line. Sure, it might get attention, but at what cost? Do we really want to tell young women that the only way they can get ahead in science is to be sexy? Really? This is not only incredibly sad, it's incredibly disturbing.

  36. How about the mystery of Dr. Aleksandra B. Djurišić with the physics department at the University of Hong Kong? It is obvious that she is gorgeous and talented, yet she spends copious amounts of time on an insignificant elderly cat lady forum seeking approval. What could be the motivation?


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