“Sexist Attitude”: it’s a Marketing Thing!

“Sexist Attitude”: it’s a Marketing Thing!

Science: It’s a Girl thing!

You have probably already heard about the latest Internet meme: “Science: It’s a Girl thing!”
It is all over Twitter, look for the #sciencegirlthing hashtag and you will see.
A video was initally posted by the new European Commission web site, http://science-girl-thing.eu/, it was removed since but you can still find it. (There is absolutely no doubt that this piece of information is going to have a Streisand effect.)


Heavy, isn’t it?

Gender stereotypes are not only descriptive, but also prescriptive beliefs about “how men and women should be and behave”.
Gender Stereotypes definition from Wikipedia.

The big question here is “WTF?!” How did they not see that this video, instead of showing a scientific image of women, is showing the dumbest bimbo side you could possibly imagine? Lipstick? Girls striking poses while men are at work? Come on…

Clothes: It's a girl thing!

Clothes: It’s a girl thing!

Male chauvinism: it's a marketing thing!

Male chauvinism: it’s a marketing thing!

But if you go to the science-girl-thing.eu web site, you will find more of it. (I haven’t checked it all as this is way too depressing…)

Science: It's a Girl Thing!

Science: It’s a Girl Thing!

Wooow. A woman cannot be a real scientist. She must wear a dancing dress under her blouse. As we say in France “Sois belle et tais-toi”. I might be wrong but that is how I see it.

The poster reads “The square of the orbital period of a planet is directly proportional to the cube of the semi-major axis of its orbit.” Kepler’s third laws

Do you think that this is the best a women can do?

How far can one go before turning back?

Not only the official video was removed from YouTube but some modifications have been made on their Facebook page. Someone must have realized the error here.
A few day ago, this is what you could see:

“Cosmetics, fashion, music and so much more…”

“Cosmetics, fashion, music and so much more…”

(As shown on bakingbiologist blog, Science: It’s a girl thing (or “How to patronise women and alienate your audience”))
Here is what you can read now:

“It is the basis for our medicine, transport, energy, and so much more.”

“It is the basis for our medicine, transport, energy, and so much more.”

Better.

The real issue here is that everyone feels insulted by this. Women, scientists, and even every guy who is just no chauvinist pig.

People you are patronizing.

“People you are patronizing.” from a James Monk’s Venn Diagram, via http://bakingbiologist.wordpress.com/

Why oh why???

We all know why. In our societies there are only few women amongst scientists. And we lack scientists. And we want equality.
We also know that there is no physical, biological or intellectual reason for this disparity.
In 2010, in France, 90.5% of girls passed the french scientific baccalauréat whereas only 87.1% of boys did. (source INSEE: Réussite au baccalauréat par série en 2010)
Looking at a longer time frame we can see these changes have been going on for almost 50 years:

Percentage of people with masters degree

Percentage of people with masters degree

(source INSEE: Diplôme le plus élevé obtenu selon l’âge et le sexe en 2010)
27.1% of girls between 25 and 34 years old have a master degree whereas only 22.3% of boys do.

One last figure: In the 80′s, 58% of scientists were women in USSR. (source: Why Aren’t There More Women Engineers?)

Isn’t this a cultural thing?

Yup. We are raised thinking boys grow up to be mechanics and girls to be dancers.
We all at some point compared girls’ toys and boys’ ones and we were offended by the radical distinction.
To eventually end up buying the pretty doll to our niece and the Meccano to our nephew only supposing they would not like it otherwise.

Boys' Toys

Boys’ Toys

Girls' Toys

Girls’ Toys

At the end we kind of understand the purpose of it all: gradually change how people see women.
People think women are more interested in lipstick than in science? So why not build a bridge between these two?
Women are reluctant to get involved in science because it is more of a guy thing? So why not paint it pink?

It is unbelievable how they did not know they were crossing a line. I am pretty sure they knew exactly what they were doing. That they would not succeed in changing the society but they would leave that to us.
When you think about the present state of things, didn’t they do what needed to be done so that we would react and stop raising our daughters to look like dolls?
Furthermore they ended up creating a buzz around a real problem. Wasn’t that their primary goal?
Because if that was it, it worked pretty well… I guess it is now our job to make a change.

So we had a good laugh, we blamed the offending video, but are we ready to change the society we are building for our children?

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Benjamin Bellamy

Paris, Beirut, NYC & Agen // e-commerce, social media, open-source & geek // follow me on twitter: @benjaminbellamy.

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One Comment

  1. This reminds me of the computer engineer barbie! (http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/02/meet-barbie-the-computer-engineer/)… Women in Tech has been a hot topic for the past couple of years, which unfortunately has led to bad decisions and actions that were supposed to be attract women but actually end up offending them even more. Maybe for a change we should ask women themselves what keeps them out of tech and how to attract them to it, because I’m sure it’s not the colors!