Home > rant, women in math > Is science a girl thing?

Is science a girl thing?

June 24, 2012

One of the reasons I chose to call this blog “mathbabe” is that when I searched that term, I found a website, now defunct (woohoo!), where semi-naked women were adorning math.

This pissed me off, because I want math babes to be doing math.

If you get that (what’s not to get?) then you might see why the European Commission’s latest effort to inspire girls to do science is truly repugnant (hat tip Debbie Berebichez, a.k.a. Science Babe).

It’s a commercial where you see a standard male scientist (in a white lab coat no less) being surprised, and, we assume, aroused, when three girly models come in, giggle, dance, and generally adorn the commercial.

At the end they put on lab goggles in the style of an ironic accessory. They’re all wearing high heels and there’s even lipstick in a few shots for some unexplained reason (are we supposed to infer that wearing lipstick makes you more scientific-alicious?).

And although there are a couple of shots of an actual female writing what could be actual formulas on a hyped-up whiteboard, that’s more than balanced by some other shots of the models with unmistakable come-hither looks, gestures and blown kisses.

People. At the European Commission. Do you have no advisors!? Do you have no common sense? Who vetted this garbage video?!?

I’d like to see us get to the point where our slogan is more along the lines of:

Science, it’s for really smart women

And our video consists of cool, funky women giving actual talks and lectures or actually working on experiments. Maybe they’re wearing heels, but for sure they’re not acting like complete fucking idiots. How’s that?

I personally could suggest about 40 people for such a video. Not hard to do.

Categories: rant, women in math
  1. June 24, 2012 at 10:25 am

    I think the best response to this video I’ve seen so far is Janet Stemwedel’s at http://scientopia.org/blogs/ethicsandscience/2012/06/22/friday-sprog-blogging-youve-made-it-clear-its-a-girl-thing-but-is-it-science/ and http://magazine.storycollider.org/2012/features/science-for-princesses/view-all/
    I printed the paper dolls from the latter site for my daughter.


    • Dan L
      June 25, 2012 at 10:37 am

      No chalk for the paper dolls? Deal breaker!


  2. June 24, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    It is hard to believe they were actually trying to promote science to women in this manner! This reminds me of the Forever 21 t-shirt fiasco.



    • Dan L
      June 25, 2012 at 10:35 am

      But this is 10 times worse. That was a company trying to make a few bucks. This was an powerful government agency in charge or a large chunk of Europe’s research funds. This campaign indicates that there most have been several people in high positions who actually thought this was a good idea. That is terrifying.


  3. LD
    June 26, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    I can’t believe no one actually has figured out who is the targeted, and who is the targeter in this campaign. Geez, here ya go: the men, yes, the men who run science programs all over the world, who attract men into these professions, want more girly-like, cutsy, sexy women in science alongside them. They are tired of working with the “Janet Napolitano” types. Plus, Napolitano types are taken seriously. Girly-like, cutsy, sexy women are generally not, and therefore, do not take up the very limited accolade space in the science professions, making them less of a threat to their attainments, and thus, purely provide less competition in which to compete with. Period.


  4. mjay
    June 26, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Why is it that Persian, Indian, Korean and Chinese female scientists have no problem with these kinds of things, but American female scientists seem to latch on, limpet-like to any media message that could remotely be construed as sexist?


  5. walt
    June 26, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    Is there any non-sexual reason for wearing heels?


  6. Eva
    June 27, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    Ad has been stopped following criticism.


  7. Josephina
    June 28, 2012 at 8:38 am

    The science babe is no saint either!
    Please, tell me: in http://picasaweb.google.com/sciencebabe.tv/MockFashionShootWithPhDAdviserPhysicsNobelLaureateRobertLaughlin# ,
    does she serve any tenable purpose other than to sex up Herr Dr. Professor Noble Laureate?


    • June 29, 2012 at 5:46 am

      The science babe actually does physics. That’s the difference: she knows her shit. Yes, she’s girly and glamorous. That doesn’t mean she’s not doing the science.

      In other words, I don’t object to people who wear lipstick and are doing research. I object to people who only wear lipstick and can’t be seen doing any research.



  8. Josephina
    June 29, 2012 at 9:11 am

    OK, so how do you know that the babes in the EC commercial don´t know their shit?
    Certainly, the science babe can’t be seen doing any research in the given photo shot.


  9. isomorphismes
    June 30, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Cathy, I’m not sure where to leave this but I think you will this young woman’s story touching: https://phoenixandolivebranch.wordpress.com/2012/06/27/things-i-love-about-being-a-millennial/#more-1355

    “College saved my life. That’s not an exaggeration.”


  1. June 26, 2012 at 3:31 am
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