Someone has unearthed footage from the early times of man. In this short clip, which is being studied with interest by cultural anthropologists for what important clues it may reveal about our ancestors, the female members of the species were easily enticed into scientific pursuits through use of color, a good, shiny lip, handsome male scientists, and sunglasses. Pink, it seems, had an especially powerful draw for these young women.
O.K., but really. This is a video from yesterday, 2012 yesterday, from the European Commission. Its purpose is to get more girls (modern girls, girls who live and go to school and use computers and like Justin Bieber, maybe, not Robert Palmer) "interested in science." Watch!
Here is what makes science "a girl thing," according to this video:
- Short skirts and updos.
- High heels.
- Ladies strutting about with their best gal pals.
- Glossy lips.
- Model-y poses (hands on hips and such).
- Attracting the attention of a hot male scientist. Looking at him coyly, from behind one's super-cute sunglasses.
- Polka dots!!!
- Lipstick, obvi. Pink. Lots of pink. Lips, fingernails... Are corpuscles pink? Close enough.
- Can we learn to make nail polish in this workshop?
- Looking sexy (and smart!!!) while writing formulas on one of those big chalkboards that smart people use.
- Flexing one's arm muscles gracefully. A big stretch, or maybe this is a dance move? Dancing is so good for the arm muscles.
- Smoke coming out of beakers, pink, pink, pink! Science-y explosions!
- A fedora tipped cavalierly across one's forehead.
- Pretending you are envisioning exactly how that picture would look on that wall.
- Colorful things, more giggles, pretty beakers, pretty shiny green liquids pouring into pretty beakers, DANCE.
- Sunglasses in mouths. Pointing, purposefully.
- Asking questions! Like, OMG, have you ever noticed how science lab goggles sort of are, like, exactly the same thing as sunglasses? Especially if they're pink.
So, yeah. This video is hopelessly corny, and not particularly innovative about science nor innovative in its thinking about women. Which girls, exactly, would be attracted to science by this video? Girls cryogenically frozen at the time that Weird Science was a big screen hit? Yet, according to a report by The New Statesman's Martha Gill (which comes to our attention via The Washington Post), Geoghegan-Quinn, the European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner at the European Parliament in Brussels, said progress is what inspired the video: “We want to overturn clichés and show women and girls, and boys too, that science is not about old men in white coats." (This kind of goes to show how off track they are in the first place—old men in white coats? Seems like science needs its own "We've come a long way, baby" moment.)
Of course, the European Commission has managed to do one very modern thing with this clip: Generate Internet outrage. Which likely means more video views than your run-of-the-mill educational campaign would ever get, and, maybe, more attention to the cause. Though we can't help but wish that the good aim of getting girls interested in science could had been handled in a slightly less cringeworthy way.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.