Updated The EU have clearly acknowledged that there is a problem with getting women into areas like science and technology. Issues such as educational bias, the lack of role-models and certain sorts of institutional sexism have all been cited as problems in the past, and at national level the topic has been discussed at conferences such as the Westminster Education forum last week.
However this Women In Science campaign funded by the EU Commission is hardly going to help. The site - titled: 'Science it's a Girl Thing' - juxtaposes things from science such as bunsen burners and fibre optic cables with items they've obviously found in a selection of women's magazines: lipstick and shoes. They released a video* yesterday:
It's a bit like trying to get fat people into science by putting a doughnut next to a test tube. But it isn't even funny like that.
What sweaty bureaucrat in Brussels came up with this campaign? Is this what Silvio Berlusconi is doing these days?
I'll only enumerate two issues here:
1. It's going to put off girls who already feel alienated by the lipstick, pouty OK magazine thing. As if young women didn't get enough lookist crap from women's mags and the advertising industry, now the EU Commission have landed in too. Maybe what's important is that they're smart and great at science.
2. If you go into science expecting bunsen burners to be like lipstick, you will be sorely disappointed. Why not try and sell science on its own merits - potential to save lives, transform the world etc.
Admittedly some of the pages deeper in the site do contain potentially interesting information about the possibilities of science and profiles of some admirable women. But that video* ain't gonna help anyone. ®
[Our theory is that this is actually a cunning disinformation campaign by Eurosceptics of some sort, perhaps having hacked the relevant YouTube accounts, websites etc. -Ed]
*Update: The video has now been made "private"...