Lipstick On a String?

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Last week, the EU Commission on Research and Innovation launched a new initiative, the “Women in Research and Innovation” Campaign, with the slogan “Science: It’s a Girl Thing.” Apparently, it was an excellent idea marred by somewhat questionable execution. It came accompanied by a video that showed female scientists decked out in makeup and miniskirts.  The New Statesman was unimpressed, noting that

The EU Commission may as well have put a lipstick on a string, and filmed 18 year old models doing a belly crawl after it  from the nail parlour (or wherever they would normally be) to the lab bench. But that’s not what they think they’re doing:

“We want to overturn clichés and show women and girls, and boys too, that science is not about old men in white coats,” said Geoghegan-Quinn, European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner speaking at the European Parliament in Brussels yesterday.

The video, initially released to YouTube, is now unavailable there, so we seem to be dependent on the assessments of those who saw it when it first aired. Critics have panned the video as sexist, concerned that it emphasizes women’s looks rather than their brains, and de-emphasizes the entire point of the campaign, which is to encourage girls to explore science as a career. More reaction here from Forbes, MSNBC.com, the Wall Street Journal, and Scientific American.

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