July 12, 2012

Video of the Week: EU’s ‘Science, It’s a Girl Thing’ Stirs Controversy

by Christine Hoekenga

This week the European Union launched a new initiative called “Science: It’s a Girl Thing” aimed at encouraging more young women to pursue STEM careers.  Their promotional video clip drew a lot of attention–although not the kind they had hoped. In fact, they were so besieged with complaints that the video was superficial and filled with stereotypes that they withdrew it and issued an explanation and apology.  The clip, still available through YouTube, is our Video of the Week.

We hope you’ll watch it and share your opinion in the comments below or on our Facebook page:

What Others are Saying
Mary Ann Rankin, President and CEO of the U.S. National Math and Science Initiative, calls the video “a viral disaster” but notes that many of the other materials for the initiative are “quite good.”  In particular, she points to a series of video profiles featuring female scientists produced by the campaign and a section called “Six Reasons Science Needs You,” which makes the case for women to get excited about STEM opportunities.

In a statement, the European Union explained the rationale behind the video clip and said it will continue the “Science: It’s a Girl Thing” campaign sans music video:

The 45-second clip was intended to put this in a lighter context, to grab the attention of teenage girls aged 13 to 18 who have up until now been very hard to reach with messages about science. The goal was to attract their attention so that they might look at the campaign in detail, visit the website where there is lots of information on science and careers in research, including video-profiles of role models.

The concept of the trailer was to combine images of science (such as electronics, mathematics, chemistry, physics) with images closer to cosmetics and fashion to show teenage girls that science is already part of their life.

What do you think?  Is the video effective?  Offensive?

Christine Hoekenga

Written by

Christine is a freelance writer, editor, and content strategist, specializing in science and nature. She holds an Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science and Media Studies and a Master's of Science Writing. She has been working in science communication and education for nearly a decade as a journalist, an organizer for conservation groups, and a museum educator. Before joining the Visionlearning team, she served as the New Media and Online Community Manager for the Webby award-winning Smithsonian Ocean Portal. Christine is assisting Visionlearning with developing new modules and glossary terms, managing the blog, and outreach through social media.