Friday Sprog Blogging: You've made it clear "it's a girl thing," but is "it" science?

If your Tweeps have been hashtagging about the same things mine have today, there's a good chance you've already seen this video from the European Union:

http://youtu.be/oZtMmt5rC6g

Ummm ... yeah. As science outreach, this would never have worked on a younger time-slice of me. But maybe I'm not the target audience.

In the interest of generating empirical data from the two possible members of the actual target audience to whom I have access, I showed the video to each of the Free-Ride offspring (both daughters, as related in my newly-published story at Story Collider) separately, then asked for their reactions, which I've transcribed below:

From the elder Free-Ride offspring, almost 13 years old:

I didn't really see those women doing science. Plus, they were trying to act too sexy. Yuck.

Me: Did you find any of the visuals engaging?

Some of the sprays of orbs were cool.

Me: How about the glassware?

Sort of. But we don't actually see how any of it is used to do science.

Based on this teaser, I would not watch the full music video.

Me: Um, I think it's supposed to be a teaser for an outreach campaign rather than a music video, although it's interesting that it read to you as "music video."

Or whatever. I feel like I've seen enough of this.

Me: Did you feel like it conveyed any information about science?

No.

Me: Did you feel like it conveyed any information about what kind of people do science?

The only clear scientist in that video was the man. The women in that video didn't come across as scientists. They were more like giggly models with scientific props.

Me: If it were you, what kind of strategy would you use to get girls interested in science?

Don't show me make-up, lipstick, and high heels. Show me an actual scientist at work.

* * * * *

From the younger Free-Ride offspring, 11 years old and no stranger to feminine accoutrements:

Why the high heels?

It was bad. I didn't like it. And science isn't just a girl thing.

Me: What didn't you like about it?

How the guy was all seduced by the girls. And the girls were acting too girly -- abnormally girly.

I didn't feel like anything in the video had anything to do with science. It was just lipstick and stuff -- that's not science.

Me: Well, there's science that goes into making cosmetics.

We didn't see that in the video. We saw make-up exploding on the ground and women giggling.

I don't think this is a good science outreach strategy except to girls who want to have exactly that image.

* * * * *

It appears the sprogs aren't the target audience either -- or, if they are, that this video is 53 seconds of highly produced FAIL.

UPDATE: While the original video was reset to "private", there is a mirror of it:

Because you want to know what the fuss is about, right?

15 responses so far

  • Yael says:

    Your daughters are awesome.

    • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

      I try to remember their awesomeness when they fight, neglect chores, and do other standard kid stuff. "Awesome" is compatible with "work in progress," right?

  • Autistic Lurker says:

    I'm not the target audience but the video (IMO) seem like a fail for all of its target audience.

    A.L.

  • My daughter, age 12, had much the same response. Jaw dropped for a bit, said "huh?" and proclaimed it to be "really dumb."

  • Super Sally says:

    Story Collider item clarification on getting the geometry book:

    I have no specific recollections of telephone calls leading up to my climactic face-to-face meeting with your teacher to get you the geometry book to work through, but I suspect I made several since I was at the boiling point when we did meet.

    Also prior to meeting the teacher I had been working with the guidance counselor on identifying math courses you could take at the high school during the second semester if you could complete the geometry course successfully by the end of the first. When the counselor seemed helpless to get the math teacher to pony up the geometry book and produce a reasonable schedule of testing, I said I would speak to him directly first before going to the principal. I had been cultivating a working relationship with the principal in order to get my children what they needed academically in the intellectual wasteland of the junior high.

    To this day I DO have a vivid memory of my face-to-face with the teacher. He briefly tried to convey his wisdom about my daughter's need for time to solidify her summer math learning. I briefly told him that I knew she had demonstrated her learning on each and every test he had given her, and that his stalling was about to cost her the ability to take an appropriate high school math class during the second semester. At that point I put my nose very close to his, looked him directly in the eye and said that if he did not give the geometry book to you within the next two days I was going over his head and I would leave footprints. [He was quite bald and the footprints would have been very visible.]

    By that point in your junior high careers, apparently I had developed enough credibility that you had the book the next day.

  • Ben Reynolds says:

    I heart Janet's mother.

  • Isabel says:

    Why was there a man in the video doing science but no women?? And if "it's a girl thing" is their theme why didn't they at least kick him off the bench and take over or something.

    Instead, as your daughters point out, they acted seductively towards him!

    Also why is it great to say it's a girl thing? It's supposed to be for anyone who is interested.

    Great responses to an extremely poor idea.

  • Jim Thomerson says:

    I tried to watch, and it came up, 'This video is private.'" I am all for that, as it sounds incredible poorly designed and stupid.

  • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

    The theory on the Twitters is that the video being reset as "private" might be a damage-control measure.

    In other apt-reactions-from-actual-girls news, @leafwarbler shared this with me on Facebook:

    My 12-yo thought that this was an advert for make-up! That "Science" was the brand name for some some new line of make-up or clothing/fashion, with the women all dressed up in fancy clothes and high heels. She did not see the connection with actually doing science at all!

    • Isabel says:

      "That "Science" was the brand name for some some new line of make-up or clothing/fashion, "

      Haha, good one. Yes it would be a good ad in that case.

  • PinkGlitteryBrain says:

    Coincidences are awesome. This video was posted yesterday and saw it shortly after reading your post. In the video girls AND boys excited about science while wearing PPE :)

    http://www.pastemagazine.com/blogs/av/2012/06/video-premiere-mates-of-state---i-am-a-scientist.html
    Apparently the album "Science Fair" iss themed around and benefiting science education for girls.

    *I'm posting this comment here and on Isis's site as well. I'm an avid reader of both blogs.

  • [...] Friday Sprog Blogging: You’ve made it clear “it’s a girl thing,” but is “it” science? and Science For Princesses and How do we make room for pink microscopes? (More thoughts on gendered science kits.) by Janet D. Stemwedel [...]

  • Zuska says:

    I totally get it. Science, done by dudes, is so hawt it attracts sexy babes who luv him up till things...explode...and that's a girl thing, you know, always has been a girl's job for thousands of years. Just, now, with Science! She blinded me with science! Where can I get a pair of those high heeled shoes? Because the only thing missing, you know, is a bit o' shoe puking!

  • Lee says:

    I'm with the person who said it sounded like an ad for a new line of fashion accessories or makeup. "Target ad" was my reaction. (As in the discount-store chain.)

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