?Science: It?s a Girl Thing!? Ad Focuses On Lipstick And Stilettos, Not Skills And Smarts

on June 27 2012 9:23 AM
Science: It's a Girl Thing
A recent ad, dubbed "Science: It's a Girl Thing!" and geared toward encouraging young girls to become more interested in science, has come off as more tawdry than inspiring. Screen Grab

A recent ad, dubbed Science: It's a Girl Thing! and geared toward encouraging young girls to become more interested in science, has come off as more tawdry than inspiring.

The Science: It's a Girl Thing! ad was developed by the European Commission as part of the Women in Research and Innovation campaign, a movement created to embolden young girls to pursue careers in the sciences, according to Mashable.

The 53-second spot opens with three girls strutting down a lab-turned-runway. Each wears a trendy outfit and spiky high heels. As a male lab technician gazes in awe, the girl strike poses for the camera. Then a montage of cosmetics -- lipstick, blush and nail polish -- flashes across the screen.

After more glamor shots, that seemed to echo Madonna's 1990 Vogue, the video ends with the Science: It's a Girl Thing! jingle. The i in science is, of course, replaced by a tube of lipstick.

Michael Jennings, European Commission spokesman for science, said the ad is intended to catch the attention of the target audience -- 13- to 17-year-old girls, according to the Irish Times. He said the ad had to speak their language to get their attention and that it was intended to be fun, catchy and attract girls to the sciences.

I would encourage everyone to have a look at the wider campaign and the many videos already online of female researchers talking about their jobs and lives, he said.

The intent, however, did not resonate with viewers.

Many have criticized the Science: It's a Girl Thing! ad for patronizing young women.

Writer and editor Helen Pearson said the ad is packed with painful patronising cliché, according to the Irish Times, while Guardian writer Ben Goldacre asked if the EU have funded a campaign to make women in science wear shorter skirts.

Trying to counteract the cultural bias that tends to persuade young women away from the hard sciences is a noble endeavor, but the advertising equivalent of sticking a pair of shoes next to a Bunsen burner and going 'See? It's for ladies, too!' doesn't seem to be doing the trick, commented the Escapist's Johnathan Grey Carter.

Astronomer Meghan Gray posted a YouTube video in response to the ad, saying that she was disappointed that this video was thought to be appropriate. She added that the spot missed its mark, and connected girls to fashion and makeup instead of science.

What do you think of the Science: It's a Girl Thing ad? Leave your feedback in the comments section below.

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