"Science: It's a Girl Thing": Lab Barbie, Extra Lipstick

This is a screengrab from the "Science: It's a girl thing!" video. Embed below.

(Update: Mid-afternoon June 22, US time, the video was “made private by uploader” on YouTube, making both video and many derisive comments by women inaccessible. I’ve put a screengrab from it above. Second update: Thankfully the original was mirrored. Embed restored below.)

(Update, June 25: The almost-universal outrage over the video had the desired effect. It has been pulled and replaced with video of actual women doing actual science, and the EC’s spokesperson has acknowledged the original video — the one this post is about — was a mistake.)


Sometimes, in journalism, you wake up on a Friday morning, and you think: I am topic-ed out. I have no ideas. What on earth am I going to write about?

I had those thoughts, at dawn today. And so I’d like to thank the European Commission, for choosing today to launch its “Science: It’s a girl thing!” campaign, igniting a storm of utterly justified Internet outrage, and making my Friday much easier than I had any right to expect.

(Seriously: Thanks, guys. And, yeah, pretty certain you’re guys.)

Here’s the back-story. In service of the completely laudable goal of getting more young women interested in science and research careers, the EC commissioned a video that invokes every possible offensive cliche: pink, giggling, short skirts, skyscraper heels, lipstick, lipstick as a writing instrument, makeup, makeup brushes, sexy poses, air kisses, men in white coats sliding their glasses up to get a better look, girls bouncing up and down hugging each other, and models of molecules falling down and breaking because OMG TEH SCIENZ IZ SO HARD.

I may have missed a few.


Here’s what Twitter had to say about it just in 30 minutes this afternoon — trust me, a small sampling of the total reaction — courtesy of the EC’s helpfully supplied #sciencegirlthing hashtag (which is still trending, but probably not in the way they intended):


Here are just a few of many (many, many) more-extended reactions that I was happy to read:

And here’s one of many (many, many) video responses:


For a sampling of what actual female scientists (and, ahem, science writers) look like, behave like and care about, I recommend the hashtag #realwomenofscience. I’d love to see that trending instead.



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