Rock Stars Vs Cheerleaders

Nov 20 2010 Published by under Academia, Activism

Sci doesn't generally like expressing her opinion on things in the blogsphere. It usually gets her yelled at, and Sci is a very conflict-averse little soul. But every once in a while. I see something that gets me thinking. And so I must comment. And at least half the internet will probably declare war on me forever more. So it goes. I'll don my protective headgear, and get on with it.

A few days ago, Sci mentioned that this year's Rock Stars of Science is out. I was pleased this year that they had women and African-Americans represented (last year's edition was pretty distressingly white and male). On the other hand, as my commenters mentioned, people either looked really REALLY awkward, or were posed with that cross-armed posture that reminded me of the ads for CSI. At least they weren't all wearing suits this year, the ladies were definitely rocking some cool looking leather jackets.

And at first I completely overlooked Dr. Oz. Sci, to be honest, doesn't own a TV, has never seen an episode of Oprah in its entirety, and while the name Dr. Oz looked familiar...I couldn't place it. I did note that he looked ok in a bow tie (for a guy in a bow tie). It was only when a commenter pointed it out that I got warning bells, went back and read the bio, and realized where I'd heard of him. Orac. Hoo boy. Dr. Oz is a peddler of the non-scientifically accurate type of medicine.

Sigh. And Elizabeth Blackburn looked so cool.

And so I felt sheepish.


(Source)

And I wondered, as others have pointed out, what awareness does this raise? How does a GQ spread in print help? Sure we promote it online, but let's be honest, people going to science blogs probably already think science is cool (in theory). And how does famous scientists posing with rockstars make the scientists look cool? It mostly looks like they are trying to look like rock stars...awkwardly. So I'm not really sure how it helps.

Then I thought of another method of outreach that has gained a lot of attention lately. I am speaking of course of the science cheerleaders.

Watching that video, I am nothing but impressed with these women, who manage to juggle a hardcore career with an equally hardcore sport. But there is something about this kind of outreach that makes me really uncomfortable. I've tried to explain it to several guys, and the conversation always ends up going somewhat like this:

Sci: I don't know that I want cheerleaders representing women in science this way.
Guy: They don't really, it's just to build up interest! It's for the kids!
Sci: If it's really for the little girls, why are they wearing those booty shorts and bringing along the cleavage?
Guy: That's the way cheerleaders DRESS! And that's what kids think of when they think of cheerleaders!!
Sci: But these cheerleaders aren't DOING SCIENCE, they're cheering. They may be saying "go science!" but they aren't actually showing these kids what doing science and being into science really looks like.
Guy: But they're changing the stereotype! They're showing that you can be a scientist AND a cheerleader.
Sci: No, they are showing you can be a cheerleader. They aren't actually DOING science.
Guy: But they are making science popular!
Sci: ...

Maybe it is good to for these women (who are, as I mentioned before, some seriously impressive people) to be cheering about science...but I'm not seeing a lot of cheering ABOUT science. I heard "GO SCIENCE!", and I heard "we're BUSTIN', We're BUSTIN', We're BUSTIN' UP THE STEREOTYPES!"

Well, they're definitely 'bustin' out of something.

I can't help but think that if they're going to promote science, maybe they ought to...cheer about science. I don't know, something like "Gravity, it's everywhere! Holds down your feet and holds your chair! It's a force between earth and me, let's hear it for GRAVITY!!". Or, I dunno "Here's a cheer for H2O, with us in liquid, ice or snow! In oceans and in ice caps too, water's essential for me and you!"

So I feel like, right now, it's a bit of a gimmick, cheering for the nerds.

But that's not the only problem I have with it. The goal is clearly to make these women visible. Visible as women who love science, who in many cases ARE scientists. Visible with their long, flowing hair, their long toned legs, their short shorts...bouncing...

And I'm not sure this is a great thing. Not necessarily for getting the notion of science out...but for the women who are already in it.

Stories abound (I've got a few of my own) of women in science getting flak for BEING women. Being treated like objects, in the lab, at conferences. I've been at conferences myself, or teaching, showing my WORK, and had to watch as my male colleagues focus on...things about me other than my work. Women in science fight against this sort of thing ALL THE TIME, working not only on our science, but on getting the men in the field to take us seriously, to not see us as objects that can also pipette.

And when I see science cheerleaders, bouncing around in teensy shorts and extensive cleavage...well, they're cheering for science, but they are also making themselves objects. Objects to be looked at by men, and not really to be taken seriously. And seeing them objectified seems to make it that much more ok to objectify the other women in science. The women on the job, the one's who want to be presenting the papers and not holding the pom-poms. You see that woman, on the job...and you know, she's HOT. She could be a CHEERLEADER.

There goes her data presentation.

So. Science rock stars? Or science cheerleaders? I'm not sure that either is really doing any good. And it's not because they don't love science, they DO. Rather, it's because, to make science cool, you can't just associate scientists with cool or popular things, like cheerleaders or rock stars. You have to make it cool to DO SCIENCE. That means more than having rock stars be rock stars next to scientists, or cheerleaders cheering at scientific meetings. That means, maybe, having the rock stars try science. Having these cheerleaders, who can sure has heck DO science, doing their work. People may say that "that's not something Sheryl Crow would do". Well, maybe if she's into science and into making science look cool, IT IS.

While I don't think that either the rock stars of science or the science cheerleaders themselves are all bad, I think we can do better. But I think that doing better may have to involve something more than pom poms and guitars. It may have to involve...some science.

80 responses so far

  • Jason Dick says:

    I had a similar reaction to the video, Sci.

  • Well, pass the squid-helmet because I agree with everything you've said.

  • Dr. Zeek says:

    I still think that Intel's commercials with the "rock stars of science" were the best at integrating a "coolness" factor in with the "nerdiness". While I don't have a huge visceral reaction to the cheerleaders, something about it makes me really uncomfortable.

  • Diane says:

    Over the decades women have shown the world we can do whatever we want. Yes, it takes a lot of women and a lot of decades, but eventually (maybe), in this corner of the planet at least (not that the planet has any corners, so I'm speaking metaphorically you must realize), women will be able to be scientists AND do cheerleading about science (while wearing [or even NOT wearing] whatever they want), and no eyes will bat, no woman will feel the slightest bit uncomfortable by the actions/antics of peers in their fertile/nubile years. (I also think they should hire sci to be their cheer-writer!)
    Booty shorts have been a great invention - they allow female bodies to do the most amazing acrobatics AND serve as (necessary AND sufficient) modesty preservation devices. They weren't around yet when I was at an age where I might have been drawn to being both scientist AND cheerleader; however at 59 and female, I appreciate the joke inherent in the juxtaposition.

  • M says:

    Whenever I see something like this, I think: would men do this? Would men show off their bodies while jumping and cheering in skimpy clothes in order to promote some awesome thing they're doing which should be to their credit ON ITS OWN, without added gimmicks?

    Women take off their clothes to promote breast cancer awareness, to promote science, to advocate for vegetarianism and against wearing fur, etc etc; it seems like the go-to idea to promote something is to find a bunch of women who'll take their clothes off for a cause, which not only objectifies them but, in my opinion, also belittles/marginalizes their actual work.

    As a woman who has to fight against being judged based on her looks I find that pathetic, frustrating and utterly unhelpful.

    • muteKi says:

      I suppose I can't talk for most people, but (though it would depend on the setting and a few other factors) I probably would, minus the fact that I'm not even remotely acrobatic.

    • An interesting follow-up to that question is:

      If men's body's were more routinely and completely objectified, would that improve the situation by promoting equality?

      It's also not necessarily about what men 'would' do with their bodies to promote a cause if they had a chance - in most cases, the demand isn't there for men's bodies. Men consume (and will pay for) images of women far more readily than women consume (and especially pay for) images of men. Whether it's a symptom or a cause of gender inequality (or both,) it's the case that having men taking off their clothes for a cause is, business-wise, a worse bet than having women take off their clothes for a cause.

      More directly:

      It's hard to say where the balance actually lies between liberating uses of one's body and uses of one's body that contribute to oppression. Simplifying the public face of science into a group of scantily-clad women waving pom-poms does something to reinforce the idea that women's bodies are consumable and that women are to be judged by their bodies - however, it almost certainly does other things, including getting some young girls to take their aspirations to be a professional seriously. It's hard to get good enough estimates of the magnitude of the opposing effects of that piece of media to say whether it's good or bad - just that it's a grey area. To make it trickier, the people involved are all women in science, bringing up the question: are feminists being contradictory when they tell women that they should make certain choices about their bodies (even when those choice would promote positive social change)? Presumably, as women who don't appear to be being exploited or coerced into displaying their bodies, they've made some sort of cost-benefit analysis of the situation and decided that what they're doing is worth it. Is our imperative to support them in the endeavors they deem to be empowering, or to chide them for participating in activities that don't appear to coincide with our views of what is acceptable (or perhaps, what we would do with our bodies)?

      I think that the most relevant goal of the science cheerleaders is to normalize their scientific endeavors. They're not looking to radically change how society views women (or at least, that's not part of their mission statement) - they're trying to move science into the realm of things that women are comfortable identifying with. In order to change the dominant culture (and be taken seriously by individuals who are entrenched in that culture,) one has to engage it from a position of credibility: the position of an insider, not an outsider. By presenting themselves using a typically feminine image, the science cheerleaders establish that they are not outsiders - they're the epitome of traditional US femininity, except that they're also working as/becoming scientists. It may be that, by using gender stereotypes to promote themselves and their cause, the science cheerleaders are reaching women and girls who never would have got their message if they hadn't.

      I agree that it is shameful and wrong that our culture is sexist enough that there's a problem in the first place, and shameful that it hasn't been corrected even after it's been recognized for many years. However, as a strategy for social change (that is, the small measure of social change that the science cheerleaders are aiming for,) the Science Cheerleaders might work.

      Also, I was a bit pleased to note that the front page of their founder's blog (yesterday's post) features a male athlete-scientist, complete with bare-chested photo:
      http://www.sciencecheerleader.com/

      Great post, Sci.

      • scicurious says:

        See, I'm not sure I agree entirely. Because first off, these cheerleaders are at the Science And Engineering Festival. If parents are taking their kids there, you have to assume those kids are going to get PLENTY of encouragement to pursue science professionally. They are only really cheering where kids who are already into science are going to see them.

        And the other thing is this: they aren't DOING science. They are cheering for it. On the sidelines (as Bob notes below). That doesn't say to girls that it's cool to do science, it says that it's cool to cheer for science on the sidelines. And how many people, seeing the science cheerleaders, will hear them TALK? How many of these kids are going to know that these women are scientists?

        Basically, I'm unsure of what the the science cheerleaders are REALLY promoting. I think their main message is that it's ok to be both a scientist and a cheerleader...but there's more than one message they are sending, and I'm not sure how clearly their main message is even coming across.

        And just because we CAN use our bodies to promote things like breast cancer awareness or science...doesn't mean it's the best way to go about it. I feel like this possible to do this in another way.

        • For the record, I agree that there are definitely better things a group of able and motivated people could do to promote science. I just needed to present a dissenting argument (because I'm like that.)

          Their impact is likely to go far beyond the event they were at - most likely, more people have seen them online (and that could be anybody) than saw them in person, judging from the 100,000 views that video has gotten in the 3 weeks it's been up.

          "How many of these kids are going to know that these women are scientists? "

          Anybody who Googles the phrase "science cheerleaders" and clicks the first link (which is, incidentally, one of the important ways that young people get information.) It won't work for everybody, but it will work for some percentage of young people who see them (and also might be detrimental to some percentage of them - thus, it's a hard calculation to decide if the science cheerleaders are "good" or not.)

          • bsci says:

            I'm a bit mixed on the cheering videos, but the interviews on http://www.sciencecheerleader.com/ are a definite positive in my book. I think they are trying hard to show scientists can have interests beyond the bench and that there is no stereotypical scientist (including branching to other athlete scientist interviews). They're also showing that people enter science from many backgrounds. They also seem to rightfully push that someone who looks a certain way can still be a good scientist. This helps people way beyond cheerleaders.

            Compared to the rock stars who are so distant in age and prestige, I think any student reading through the pages could find similarities to some of these people. The similarities might not be physical, but reading someone who is excited about the science they do and possibly entered the field through an unusual path is great.

      • Isabel says:

        "including getting some young girls to take their aspirations to be a professional seriously"

        Is there any evidence for this? What effect does it have on little boys? Is a little girl going to take her aspirations more seriously after seeing this? why? It could just as likely have a negative effect on their self esteem.

        It's so obviously sexist. Come on, just admit it people. Jeez. "makes me uncomfortable" blah blah. It's really not so hard to understand. As a woman, I am totally embarrassed by this.

        What about its effects on me, or other female scientists?

        Excusing sexism because it's for a good cause is as outrageous as excusing black face or some other racist entertainment for a good cause.

        How many of those kids are going to make it through a PhD program and find a job in science anyway? It doesn't focus on real problems. lots of girls are interested in science already.

        It's stupid on every level.

  • KBHC says:

    Thanks for writing this - I think it's an important contribution and hope people internalize your message. Also, there is no reason to feel sheepish about the Dr. Oz thing. It is the result of the "scientists" being chosen by people who want to sell magazines. Ultimately the other folks chosen were pretty cool, even if his presence kinda ruined the message (if the message was supposed to be an appreciation of scientific evidence ).

    • scicurious says:

      Thanks for pointing out Dr. Oz, KBHC!. And besides, if I don't feel sheepish, then I will have no excuse to use the adorable sheep animated gif. :)

  • Bob O'H says:

    I found the whole rock stars thing a bit gimmicky, too. Very middle-aged and posy. One wonders who the audience is.

    Oh, and why not use real rock stars who are scientists - in the UK we have Brian May (Queen) and Brian Cox (D-Ream).

    Irrespective of the science, I find cheerleading a bit suspect. You lasses aren't actually allowed to play these games, you have to stand on the side waving big fluff-balls around. *sigh*

    • Katharine says:

      Brian May and Brian Cox are unfortunately an exception, not a rule, to rock stars having any measure of intelligence.

    • Karen says:

      Brian May was my very first crush, and he has really borne out my early impressions. What a man.

      I do have to defend cheerleading, though. In the US it is a serious, even obsessive athletic pursuit. It's group gymnastics. I was little and easy to throw around, but I did not have the fire in the belly necessary to make it even past junior high cheer. People have been respectful, generally, of the athleticism of these cheerleaders, but maybe not really appreciating how serious and independent of the team on the field cheer squads are. Science Cheerleaders is more like Football Scientists than Rock Stars of Science -- those women are JOCKS.

  • Bashir says:

    I had a similar reaction to both. It's like they didn't really know what to do with the scientists (or science). If you peddle in shallow stereotypes the only way to "bust" one is to insert another. It doesn't quite work, because you're still using tired tropes about nerds, rockstars, cheerleaders, etc.

  • Snarkyxanf says:

    I'm a bit weirded out that a woman who went to law school at Georgetown and medical school at George Washington gets her affiliation listed as the Washington Redskins.

  • Zen Faulkes says:

    Thanks for the link, Sci!

  • becca says:

    I have huge problems conceptualizing cheerleading in general. Like NeuroDojo, I see cheerleading as a nexus point for a lot of things that are slightly or very disturbing.
    Sexist objectification of women-as-only-valuable-as-objects?
    Horrible reinforcement of women-only-important-in-supporting-Real-Sports-by-men?

    But then, is the later interpretation only possible if you refuse to view the incredible athleticism displayed by these women as a Real Sport? That is, is it possible to look down on cheerleading in a completely nonsexist way?
    I would never look down upon gymnastics or dance the way lots of people do with cheerleading. Are they less focused on looks? Nope. So it's not even 'objectification' per se. There's even plenty of dance that is more sexualized. I can't think of any logically consistent reason cheerleading *can't* be taken seriously.

    So really, I'm left with one legitimate* objection to cheerleading... which also applies equally to Geoffrey Beene clothing... There's a strong association with social stratification based on looks and conformity. Yet that's a pretty weak objection, given how much of showing-off-with-clothing and/or identifying-rank-with-clothing doesn't phase me much.

    I guess in a perfect world, cheerleading would simply be a great thing, and the science cheerleaders an intersection of two great things. Given the kyriarchy, it's a particularly startling reflection of a lot of ugly things in our society, particularly about women in science.

    *in the sense of internally consistent with my values- not that the other objections are necessarily illegitimate for others

    • Isabel says:

      Becca: You nailed it perfectly in the first paragraph. The rest is over-thinking.

      btw do people feel sexualized outfits are appropriate for the purpose of reaching out to families and children? Why hasn't anyone noticed that? We should be following what sports do?

      Is it really going to help a nerdy young girl feel better about wanting to be a scientist? Is it going to make nine-year-old boys respect woman scientists?

      It is reinforcing stereotypes, while claiming to do the opposite. No wonder people are confused. Confused, but a little desperate sounding in their rationalizations imo.

      What next? Pole-dancing for science? (but the 'girls' are so athletic! So it's sexist to put them down! It's very complicated!)

      A poster above said to imagine men doing it and this makes it crystal clear how completely offensive and embarrassing a spectacle this is.

  • Darlene says:

    Thanks for giving this some thought. I hope you'll have a chance to see them perform. They do several science cheers and spend the bulk of their talking to young girls (in particular) about science and engineering. Obviously, cheerleading is the hook. It's not possible to convey the depth of this campaign in a two min video. We're working on a long-form version in which the women tap into the complexity of these stereotypes and share more personal insights (including examples of what turned them onto science as kids and how they deal with comments, like the one posted above ;) ).
    If you want clarification on anything (like the fact they do actual science cheers and spend time talking about science, etc), I'm pretty easy to reach: Darlene@sciencecheerleader.com
    Thanks again.
    Darlene

    • scicurious says:

      Hi Darlene! Thanks for clarifying that the cheerleaders do science cheers. I didn't get that at all in the video and it makes me feel a bit better about promoting science enthusiasm this way. I will look forward to seeing more on the cheerleaders, and in particular, why they think this particular method of promoting science is beneficial. I definitely understand that it's good to be a scientist and a cheerleader (or in my case, a scientist and a dancer), and I'd like to hear more thoughts on what cheerleading for science can bring to the women in science fields.

    • Isabel says:

      "s (including examples of what turned them onto science as kids and how they deal with comments, like the one posted above ;) )."

      >yawn< we've heard it all before. Again, can anyone imagine males doing anything similar unless it's for a comedy routine? Anyone?

      And since this is about science, how about some statistics that sexy, scantily clad cheerleaders get the message across better than something more family and multiculturally friendly, like, say, more modestly dressed women? Or male and female mixed groups?

      Little girls today have *more* pressure than ever at younger ages than ever to be 'girlie' and 'smoking hot'. And they are getting the message, absolutely. There is something wrong with that, and with playing into it, as if it was the girls themselves who are the driving force of this change, and us adult women are powerless to do anything about it, so what the hell we may as well exploit it. Meanwhile slut-shaming of women and teenage girls has made a huge comeback, so it's not like we live in more enlightened times or anything.

      And to use biology for an example, getting more girls 'interested' does not lead to the expected results.

  • Darlene says:

    Thanks again. I should point that there are something like 1.5 million little cheerleaders in the U.S. Think of the impact this type of campaign can have on that audience...we're starting to work with groups who can help us measure the impact but it'll take some time. In the interim, we're having a blast!
    Nice to virtually meet you. Hope our paths cross again before too long.

    • scicurious says:

      I'm not worried about the little girls, and I'm glad that they are getting exposure to science through an unexpected source. While I would never argue that women have a right to be both sexy AND scientists, I worry that using sexy to promote science could end up with more woman in science being treated badly. What I'm worried about is: do you think there is a possible unintentional side effect of people buying into a stereotype of women which could adversely affect women who are currently in science?

      • scicurious says:

        Oh and it's nice to virtually meet you too. :) I'm sure we'll run into each other somewhere!

        • Darlene says:

          I'm not worried about that. There's no perfect solution. I come at this from my very personal experiences. I was a professional cheerleader for the 76ers. Loved it but kept it secret for years for fear of what my colleagues at Discover would think. Many of these women do the same thing for fear of being labeled by science colleagues. Does that seem right? Should female scientists who rightly bemoan the lack of women in science get to define and approve characteristics of women entering the field? NSF reported that most kids draw female scientists as sad looking, lonely women.
          Here's an opportunity to take an extreme paradoxical image and turn that concept on its head.
          This is a complex campaign. Each viewer reacts differently based on their personal experiences. Plenty of women just don't like cheerleaders/cheerleading. Stirs up unpleasant reminders from high school, I suppose. Some people don't want to hear that cheerleaders can be smart bc it ruins their fantasy or, for others, perhaps seems really unfair (why should one person be beautiful, happy, smart, and successful?). By and large, the general public--including LOTS of teachers, parents, scientists, public/private foundations, and cheerleaders/dancers, etc--"get it."
          Of course I didn't set off to offend anyone. The goal has always been to move more people towards science and this is but one of several tactics Scicheer uses (see policy projects and citizen science efforts).
          It doesn't suit everyone. Nothing does. But if we want to move the needle, we have to take risks and look for ways to inspire people to think differently!
          Thanks again for the opportunity to weigh in.

          • Isabel says:

            "NSF reported that most kids draw female scientists as sad looking, lonely women."

            Obviously the opposite of that is perky, sexy cheerleaders! With enhanced boobs for the kiddies! Such an improvement! I can't wait to see the next crop of drawings. Please keep us informed. We are just so impressed with these 'risks' you are taking. Yeah it's really risky to conform to the lowest common denominator media stereotypes. Wow.

            "Here’s an opportunity to take an extreme paradoxical image and turn that concept on its head."

            hahahaha. yeah that's why NOBODY got the difference until you explained it. Because you turned it on its head!

            "Each viewer reacts differently based on their personal experiences."

            Yup. It's all about me and my hangups, eh? yeah I obviously wanted to be a cheerleader and didn't make the cut because I was too ugly, so now I'm bitter. What other explanation could there possibly be? Nice job turning stereotypes on their heads there.

            And of course ALL the little girls you 'reach' will make the cut, and will be successful scientists as well! It's not as if 8-year-old girls weren't already dieting and wearing make-up and sexy outfits. They're obviously just not trying hard enough.

            Again, there is no way in hell men would ever do this, except for laughs. *Because it's ridiculous*.

            Coming up soon kiddies! Pole dancing for science! maybe that will reach the high school 'sluts'.

            Again where is your long term evidence that this is needed and/or effective?

  • becca says:

    "Is it really going to help a nerdy young girl feel better about wanting to be a scientist?"
    Aren't you buying into the 'nerdy' = diametrically opposed to 'attractive/athletic' stereotype a bit much here?

    And while I can see why *you* would think it silly, there are male cheerleaders that don't think of themselves as a joke. There are also female football players. While I can't imagine getting enough of either of them that are also hardcore scientists to pull off a campaign like this, I'd love to see it (hint hint, Darlene...).
    Although, maybe it *wouldn't* be so hard...
    If you need jazz dancing immunologist blackbelts, give me a call. We'd be *way* better, and less *stereotyped* at 'busting down the stereotypes' with knifehand strikes.

    "And to use biology for an example, getting more girls 'interested' does not lead to the expected results."
    Not to be the terribly morose negative nelly, but *somebody* needs to ask the question with all outreach- do we really want to 'recruit' people to a career path that eats them alive for being female? Is it "great" to have so many citizen scientists because you have burnt through the hopes and dreams of so many people who wanted to be professional scientists, particularly when 'who gets to be a professional scientist' is decided by a lottery in which white males of certain backgrounds get a lot better odds??

    • Isabel says:

      "Aren’t you buying into the ‘nerdy’ = diametrically opposed to ‘attractive/athletic’ stereotype a bit much here?"

      Nope. I just don't think athletic/attractive equals scantily clad eye candy waving poms poms for the real athletes, that's all.

      Your black belt idea is awesome. My niece is working on hers, and she's plenty attractive (and I remind her of that) but not a girlie type. It would be nice to see something in the media that isn't going to make her feel inadequate at age nine.

      How do the male cheerleaders dress by the way? In cute little outfits and go-go boots?

      yes male cheerleaders for women scientists, that would break some stereotypes. I would support that! haha.

  • Zuska says:

    I would be interested to know if the science cheerleaders have done any actual scientific testing - you know, pre-event/post-event evaluation survey comparisons - that would demonstrate that science cheerleaders have any sort of impact at all, positive or negative, on their target audience.

    Do young girls have a better idea of what sorts of careers in science are available after seeing a science cheerleader event? Do they know what they need to do to prepare for a such a career? Do they know where to go to seek out additional information? Do they even understand that the women they have seen performing are both scientists and cheerleaders? Can they name more types of scientific careers, or more women scientists, after a science cheerleader event than before? If they do the "draw a scientist" challenges, do the images they draw change before and after such an event?

    Can the scientist cheerleaders answer any of these questions?

    If they can't, they might as well put down their pom poms. If you don't have any idea what sort of impact your event is having, good or bad, or whether it's having any impact at all, all you are doing just amounts to so much sound and fury. Meanwhile, I'm sure there are plenty of adult men who just lurve the idea of smart women making sure we all remember what's most important: to look hot, in a totally heteronormative fashion. And why not? It's so EMPOWERFUL!

    • I'm hear that. Any sort of empirical data would be welcome, and would make it much easier to make an argument one way or the other. At the moment, the conversation is all armchair (which is fun, but can never be conclusive.)

      They seem like a new organization, though, and that sort of testing (esp. with a decent sample size) would take extra staff and some lead time - not a staggering amount, but a considerable amount. Hopefully it's in the works.

  • BikeMonkey says:

    I agree with Isabel.

  • becca says:

    Isabel- these *are* Real Athletes http://tinyurl.com/2bngjnv. Look! There's even Boys doing it, so it must count. *infinite eye roll*.
    Thank you for demonstrating why 'overthinking' happens.

  • Darlene says:

    As I stated, we are working with folks to help us measure the effectiveness of this budding campaign. This just launched a few weeks ago so, Isabel, the long term evidence you seek will be a while coming.
    I've got to add something. For years, I've heard about the "angry commentors" on science blogs and I'm happy to say I've been immune to that. Until I read through some of Isabel's comments. The tone is uncalled for and it certainly isn't productive. By all means, Isabel, feel free to start your own campaign. There's room for everyone and there's lots of work to be done. Just know it's a lot of work, they pay ain't great, and, as it turns out, there's an angry critic in every crowd.
    Cheers,
    Darlene

    • Zuska says:

      There's long term evaluation, and then there's short term evaluation. You can evaluate a single event with pre and post event surveys to see if the message you think you were sending to your target audience was actually delivered, and whether certain key pieces of information were lodged in the audience's mind in the short term. You can evaluate pre-event to see what level of awareness and interest your target audience has in the topics you are going to "discuss" or "present" or "cheer" about, and evaluate post-event to see whether those pre-event attitudes, levels of awareness, and interest budged at all as a result of viewing your performance. Long term follow up evaluations are much more complicated to carry out, and require some level of interaction with and cooperation of parents and/or school districts to determine how the target audience is continuing with their interest in science-related subjects, course taking, activities, career exploration, college admission, etc. And of course, for any of it to be meaningful, you need a control group that has not been exposed to Science Cheerleaders, that is matched for relevant age/class/gender characteristics.

      Launching a program to recruit young women into science without thinking beforehand about how you will evaluate the effectiveness - indeed, whether you are having any impact on your target audience at all - of your program is a huge waste of resources, time, and talent. A lot of people in the science/engineering community have been doing outreach programs for decades and the development of effective program evaluation tools is a critical part of this work.

      Have you spent any time familiarizing yourself with any of the copious literature in this field - for it is an actual field of scholarly study? It's not just something that people do on the side for grins. It is an actual field of professional work. If you spent a little time looking at the research produced by people who have been dedicating their professional lives to this for decades, you might find that (1) you are reinventing some wheels and (2) some of your wheels are flat.

  • Isabel says:

    Darlene,

    Thanks for the suggestion, but I already work bringing science to kids, often specifically to under-served communities, recently on an NSF funded project. See I'm just like you! Except I don't need to wear sexy outfits in a desperate bid to get the kids attention. We even do actual science and we all have a fantastic time! And I'm quite sure they are not left with an impression of me as a sad and lonely woman, who is bitter because she never got to wave pom poms around in high school. Oh and there were no angry critics to be found.

    Nice chatting with you also.

    • scicurious says:

      No need to be nasty on a personal level. Discussion is great, but calling people desperate isn't called for, and she certainly never called you anything. Please try to keep discussion to ideas and not personal insults.

      • Isabel says:

        She implied that people like me didn't like cheerleaders because we were not chosen to be one in high school, that people don't like them because they are jealous, basically. I take that as an insult, and it is not true. It's yet another damaging stereotype. She also was dismissive as in "there's an angry critic in every crowd" also not true.

        She said:

        "Each viewer reacts differently based on their personal experiences. Plenty of women just don’t like cheerleaders/cheerleading. Stirs up unpleasant reminders from high school, I suppose. Some people don’t want to hear that cheerleaders can be smart bc it ruins their fantasy or, for others, perhaps seems really unfair (why should one person be beautiful, happy, smart, and successful?)."

        The crowd I hung out with in high school were the cool kids who thought cheerleaders were ridiculous even then, and had no desire to wave pom poms around. We were all attractive, just unconventional in our way of thinking, as many future scientists and artists are. The idea that we all wish were waving pom poms in tiny outfits but just didn't make the cut and are now bitter is a very pervasive, and definitely insulting, sexist myth.

      • Isabel says:

        Also, I didn't call *anyone* desperate, I said it was desperate *bid* to get kids attention. That is hardly name-calling.

        • scicurious says:

          Fair enough.

          • Karen says:

            I think sci was just reacting to the really angry tone of your comments. I'm not saying there isn't a lot to be angry about as a woman in science -- just that the anger radiates out from everything you've posted here. And it's aimed at a fellow female scientist. That is what makes me uncomfortable, anyway.

          • Isabel says:

            For Karen below, where it won't post-did we run out of indents maybe?

            I'm not angry about being a woman in science. I'm angry about sexiness being sold to little girls, and about the assumption that this is what is holding them back, that this will finally end stereotypes and get kids interested in science. And I'm angry that she is spreading harmful and untrue stereotypes about feminists to young girls and women, and apparently has no intention of stopping that.

            I'm not surprised people prefer Darlene's cold and calculated (and patronizing) corporate speak. Hey Karen, stop judging your fellow women and criticizing their tone.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Darlene,

    Far be it from me to defend Isabel specifically but you are making a mistake if you dismiss the depth of feelings which the notion of cheerleaders evokes in some people. One of the greatest things I ever learned from a scientific mentor is that the paper manuscript is improved by even the nuttiest of reviewer comments. My view is that you should attempt as best you can to take your most critical reviews seriously. This does not mean that in the end you agree with them. It just means that you try to fully understand the breadth of effects you are having. In the case of a manuscript, you have to recognize that a reviewer is proxy for a number of eventual readers who may have the same failure to understand your point. Similarly, you may have one effect on one target group of potential scientists and a whole 'nother effect on a different target group. Understanding this will help you to craft your approach.

  • Darlene says:

    Drug Monkey:
    I absolutely agree with you and I spend lots of time discussing varying points of view w/folks.
    I'm not dismissing the comments. I find them (very) valuable. Look, I'm here, reading the comments and responding to them. I do appreciate them.
    It's not what was said, it's the venom embedded in the tone. Just not productive and it's why lots of people shut off. I don't want that to happen.
    As for the cheerleaders, I realize they evoke deep reactions and it's partly why I'm centralizing this effort around them. They get people talking. So, let's keep talking.
    If any of you are planning to be at SciOnline in January, perhaps we can meet up there.
    Take care.

    • Isabel says:

      Ah, the old "if you're offending people you are doing something right" concept. Totally overlooks how easy it is to offend people:)

    • scicurious says:

      Hi Darlene,

      Cheerleaders do evoke some pretty strong reactions with some people. And while that's a good way to start discussion, I hope that you'll think about getting some responses to some of the concerns that are raised. I am kind of concerned about your comments, particularly those that said "I'm not worried about that", and "Plenty of women just don’t like cheerleaders/cheerleading. Stirs up unpleasant reminders from high school, I suppose. Some people don’t want to hear that cheerleaders can be smart bc it ruins their fantasy or, for others, perhaps seems really unfair (why should one person be beautiful, happy, smart, and successful?)."

      I think that the second comment in particular unintentionally promotes another kind of stereotype (that women who don't like cheerleaders must be bitter and unsuccessful), and may not help your cause very much with the people you would like to convince. It also can come off sounding dismissive, and while I'm sure that's not the intention, there is no tone of voice on the internet.

      I think it might be a good idea to have a series of relatively canned and prepared responses to concerns like mine, which take into account what they may be feeling, and while not dismissing their concerns, promote your cause. You might have those somewhere and I missed them, but on occasions like these, it might be a good idea to pull them out.

  • becca says:

    Darlene,
    Keep in mind, no one is saying cheerleaders evoke 'deep reactions' as in 'getting a rise out of people', fueling buzz, and getting you on a Fox news story where they can play up the 'controversy'. That is true, but you know that. It's not necessarily a bad thing.
    What we hope you will recognize is that the simple word 'cheerleader' can evoke the deepest and most awful parts of being rejected, being told you don't belong, and told you aren't good enough. In other words, all the things you claim to be fighting against people telling women when it comes to their interest in science. If that weren't enough, they also evoke the harshest sexism, the harassment, the rape, the abuse, and everything associated with sexual exploitation.
    In other words, there is a vileness here that deserves venom. I don't think it's you or the other science cheerleaders that deserves venom, but you are playing with matches.

    • Isabel says:

      "What we hope you will recognize is that the simple word ‘cheerleader’ can evoke the deepest and most awful parts of being rejected,"

      Please don't keep repeating this myth. Or is that how you personally felt? rejected? Please keep it personal. I don't know a single woman who feels this way.

  • Darlene says:

    Thanks, Becca. I do understand that.
    I'd really like to have a discussion w/this group at some point. It's difficult to do this in soundbites here.

  • Beth says:

    I couldn't agree more. I have no qualms with cheerleaders. I personally never saw the point in it but, eh, whatever; to each her own. What bothers me is that once again, the sex with the boobs is being objectified in order to sell an idea.

    "Well, maybe if she’s into science and into making science look cool, IT IS."

    THIS.

    Science IS cool (okay, so...maybe not all of it, but enough, damnit!). We want kids to like science for what it is. Not attract them with something completely unrelated, only to have them lose interest once they find out it's not what it was advertised as. There are better ways to communicate how science really IS awesome than having a group of women shake their asses and shout in rhyme.

    As a kid, I was interested in many areas of science. No one ever encouraged me in them; I was even discouraged simply because I have two X chromosomes. That's why I'm not a scientist. Not because I didn't have anyone tossing pon-poms in my viewing area and telling me how neat-o science is. Parents play a much larger role in influencing youth than any misdirected gimmick could.

  • Kaija says:

    Ugh. Science IS cool...so cool that it doesn't need/want cheerleaders. Nobody else with a "real job" has cheerleaders pepping them up while they muster up the final burst of 110% effort to get that TPS report in on time. Who wants to be on the sidelines when they can be competing on the field?

    Seriously, I was a geeky smart young girl who adored science and gathering data and analyzing the whys and hows of things. I also loved sports and winning and running over/through people. Did I get any support or encouragement in those things? No, I got a lot of steering towards more feminine activities and interests...like creative writing and dance/cheerleading. I was also told I didn't "look like a nerd or a linebacker" and other advice that said my prrety appearance should harmonize with some more conventional choices and that my competitiveness and aggression needed to be hidden under some more "ladylike" demeanors. Good thing I was stubborn little shit who was used to doing whatever *I* thought sounded interesting. Two engineering degrees, a science PhD and many many years of ice hockey and football later, I still cringe whenever females are used to "sex up" something to make it more interesting and more appealing to girls (via social approval and male interest, wot?).

    Get some female scientists of all sizes/shapes/colors/body types/backgrounds dressed in whatever the hell they actually wear on a daily basis and have them interact in small groups with girls and TALK about science and do some experiments and open up about their personal lives and discuss some gender roles/cultural scripts and how they narrowly frame what we expect from certain groups of people. That sounds like what I would have thanked the Flying Spaghetti Monster for bringing in to my middle/junior high/high school life...if you would have brought "science cheerleaders" around I would have rolled my eyes and seen right through that crap.

    (Funny, now in my dotage I have taken up some girly things like dance and I get instant mad cred because I "look like dancer" even though I totally suck).

  • Isabel says:

    Fisted.com: Cheerleaders Make Science So Much More Interesting. “I’m sure that there are plenty of hot chick-hating feminists out there who are going to criticize Darlene and Science Cheerleaders’ approach. They are going to say that it degrades women and all that hullabaloo. But the fact is no one would be reading this post right now if there weren’t hot, scantily clad stunners telling you to read it. You wouldn’t find out how few women make their way into the sciences in college and beyond and that something should be done about that. So feminists: when overall awareness is raised and people actually start to care about the presence of women in science, you can thank these well-endowed hotties above.”

    Jezebel : ProCheerleaders Become Science Cheerleaders. “While skimpy costumes and pom-poms may be the gimmick that draws attention to the group, the website actually provides an interesting picture of women working in STEM fields, and how their appearance has factored into their career. Along with updates on science news and videos explaining the physics of football, Cavalier posts interviews with each of the women about her interest in cheering, her academic pursuits, and the discrimination they’ve faced trying to do both.”

    Topless Robot: She Cheered Me With Science. (comments are worth a read)

    Ultimate Cheerleaders: The Titans Cheerleaders Participate in the Science and Engineering Festival.

    Wonder How To: “Shake those hot brainy booties for Science!!”

    Asylum.com: Science Cheerleaders! (Note my least favorite line: “Cavalier is still kinda smokin’ “ Nice. )

    i09.com: Science Cheerleaders… “expect this to be a subplot on Glee.”

    San Francisco Examiner: These Cheerleaders Prove Science Is Sexy.

    • Katharine says:

      As much as I often have vociferous disagreements with you on many things, Isabel, I could not agree more that this is one of the single best arguments as to why the Science Cheerleaders are a really bad idea.

      Because meatheads at Fisted (what a ridiculous name for a website) and Asylum.com (I think these first two are 'men's' websites - more like 'man-children', am I right?) are, well, meatheads.

  • Isabel says:

    Sorry, the above is from Darlene's website. I had to bring it into another program to get rid of the formatting as it wouldn't post and forgot to leave my commentary. But I think the excerpt speaks for itself. That's just what girls need- a feminist-hating website. Grrr.

  • Kaija says:

    My point is that this "science cheerleader" thing probably has the best intentions, but to the community of females (and we are as varied in our personalities, interests, and traits as any other biological population), the focus STILL seems very much on appearance/looks/adherence to the conventional norm. If the message is "hey you cute girly girls, you can do science AND be a hot chick", the cute girls who are into science get PLENTY of approval and pressure to keep being hot but they need/want some support that totally ignores that and encourages them AS A PERSON in their science interests. If the message is "hey you not so cute girls, you can do science and it's totally hot", those girls get enough cultural messages that "appearance trumps smarts if you're female" that the message is going to ring false because it still focuses on appearance. The message "you can do science too" comes with the ever-present gendered link to appearance/sex appeal..."you can do this even if you're not that cute girl/you can do this even if you're that cute girl". What many people here are reacting to is that link with appearance. The message seems positive but it still comes with yet another helping of the "whatever you are, it's still REALLY important how you look/whether you appear feminine and attractive enough."

    • Isabel says:

      "“hey you cute girly girls, you can do science AND be a hot chick”"

      And why or why *in 2010 for crying out loud* is this not immediately seen as sexist? Like being amazed that a black person is smart and articulate?

      And feminist-bashing??? We will really ultimately owe any success women have in science to sexy pom pom wavers who have taken time away from their usual activity of cheering on men's activities and providing eye candy for the crowds?

      Keep in ind that although Darlene didn't say this she chose this to put front and center on her web site. She has a lot to answer for and should not be let off easily for 'having good intentions'.

  • Katharine says:

    I think much of my opinion about this whole Science Cheerleaders thing can be summarized simply by calling attention to two things:

    1) The public is by and large pretty meatheaded for the most part. We need to not capitulate to them. We need to get the high ground.

    2) I think it's pretty ridiculous that appearance is being used as a gambit here and being prized ridiculously highly.

    3) Why does someone feel the need to associate rock stars with science? Why can't we just promote it on its own? Is it because there's a perception that the public likes more generally dimwitted professions such as rock stars or models or cheerleaders, which really - and I think this is entirely justified - are seen by the gibbering masses as Uber Sexy and also Not Very Bright because people who go on to science aren't exactly the majority in those areas - rather than smarter professions, even the 'sexier' ones such as being a doctor, such as us scientists, who the moronic bunch sees as Smart and Nerdy and Eggheaded with the implication that the morons think intelligence is somehow bad to them and somehow not just not synonymous but directly antonymous to sexiness?

    Yes, I will be forthright and state that I really don't like the public in general. When I start my professorhood I may end up spending very little time on outreach merely because of my deep, abject pessimism about most of the rest of humanity. I hope the whole situation improves by that point.

  • Katharine says:

    And conversely, why do the gibberers appear to equate sexiness with dumb?

    • Karen says:

      Thank you for that, Katharine. That's part of the reason I get offended by some of the feminist takes -- everything is going just fine until someone says "fake boobs", and I immediately get pissed because it reveals the ingrained ideas that a) big boobs are all fake and b) boob size and intelligence are inversely proportional.

      I just got the sudden idea that perhaps there are a lot of, say, former strippers in science. Grad school is expensive.

  • Katharine says:

    Before someone makes the insulting proposition that I'm an ugly fug who envied cheerleaders in high school, I am not a bad-looking person and actually looked down on them considerably. Most of them I suspect will either be desk jockeys or soccer moms, neither of which do I hold in anything approaching high regard at all.

  • Katharine says:

    Can we put sexist men in objecty positions? Just to show them how ridiculous it is when they do it?

    Someone put Tucker Max, Mel Gibson, or Ted Haggard on the cover of Maxim or something on all fours, their arse in our faces, looking coquettishly over their shoulder.

    • History Punk says:

      Yes, you can put them in "objecty positions." Just pony up enough cash to get them to agree to do so of their own free will just like the women who grace the cover of Maxim.

      • Of course! Everybody knows that all decision-making agents are completely rational and independent despite their specific place in a given social system, even if that social system is set up to restrict their choices and coerce them into doing certain things.

  • FrauTech says:

    Thanks to all the commentors here for making me feel like I don't live in a black hole corner of the universe where I'm alone.

    We didn't have much of a cheer thing at my school (or I didn't know any of them). I was in all the "smart" classes with all the "smart" kids. And you know what? I still got teased and margianalized for my appearance. And it hurt. And it still hurts. So I don't have a specific hangup with cheerleaders. But this video just reminds me of how it doesn't matter how smart I am or how great my work is, that I'll only ever be "accepted" or even just listened to if I am conventionally attractive. It was smart, pretty kids who went on to become MDs and get PhDs that looked down on my pudgy, dump self. I feel like there's a few corners of the internet where being whoever I want to be, whatever level femininity or attractiveness, is okay, and some of those people have commented today. But videos like this are just too real world sexist for me.

    When I first went into engineering I wondered why so few women went into it, and then why so few women seem to stay with it (the leaky pipeline is an incredibly visible phenomenon at my workplace). I don't get hit on or slapped on the ass Don Draper-era style, but it's pretty clear when so many of the men I work with view the women as objects. And for the most part, it's the men in power. It's like private industry is a training ground for these douchebags. They come out of college with fairly egalitarian ideas and are slowly indoctrinated into the patriarchy before they can advance careerwise. So now I don't know even know if I could ever recommend this career to any young women I meet. It just seems like a horrible soul crusher. There are so many additional obstacles one must overcome in addition to all the traditional ones that any career has that it seems like I would only suggest this job to mean people or someone I want revenge upon. So I guess I'll commend Darlene on two things: 1) not being so bitter and angry that she still has enough optimism to try to recruit innocent victims, I mean little girls, into the industry and 2) at least ALL her cheerleaders aren't perfect, white barbie dolls. Because as sad as this sounds, to be considered pretty and attractive here you have to be CONVENTIONALLY pretty and attractive, too exotic and you too can be ignored.

    • Carrie says:

      @FrauTech

      I'm sorry that you have to live in such a sexist environment, and it sounds like you are suffering as a result. Have you considered moving locations or workplaces? Maybe it is just the place where you are.

      I'm finishing up my undergraduate honors degree in a physical science this year, so I really hope that my experience won't be like yours. So I'm a young female aspiring scientist and I find what you're saying kind of scary.

      • A female physicist says:

        @Carrie,

        It's not all like that, but if you plan on continuing in physics, you're going to see more and more sexism. Some fields are a lot better than others, I know many women in biophysics, atmospheric, and astronomy who are almost completely unaware of gender inequalities in their departments, but in other fields, like mine, it's very, very obvious (and you might even get that offensive slap on the ass at a conference - seriously).

        But, that doesn't mean women should shy away from entering male dominated fields and that doesn't mean that they shouldn't be themselves and proud of how they look, whether they are conventionally attractive or not. Despite (or I should really say, "because of") *rampant* sexism, I actually find that women who are less "conventionally" attractive are more respected amongst my peers because they "don't waste time on silly things like their appearance and therefore must be more focused". I actually think things like Science Cheerleading are positive because they help get rid of that terrible mindset that exists in some communities that women can't like how they look and think about how they look and still have enough brain left to do hard science.

        You will face sexism; there will be people who will say you only have your position because you're a woman and "affirmative action" made someone pick you over a more qualified man (unfortunately, that might even be true). You'll hear gossip about some girl who is only squeaking through her PhD quals because she's sleeping with her supervisor (unfortunately, that might even be true). And if you have to share an office with a bunch of guys, you'll probably hear them talk about the "hot" new undergrads (and you'll want to cut your ears off). But that doesn't mean science doesn't NEED you.

        Many scientific communities are sexist, but it isn't "all communities" anymore, and that's because we're making progress! We need women, all kinds of women, every kind of woman, to want to enter the sciences because she loves science! We can change the scientific culture by not shying away from all male departments and conferences and by being ourselves, whether we're a quiet, hard working woman who hasn't bought new lipstick in 15 years or whether we're a loud, hard working woman who feels her best in tight fitting short-shorts (and anything in between and beyond). If we want the world to be different for our daughters and our granddaughters, then we have to respect ourselves and each other, for who we are as intellectual beings, and eventually, the rest of the world will catch up.

        -Sarah

  • leigh says:

    Plenty of women just don’t like cheerleaders/cheerleading. Stirs up unpleasant reminders from high school, I suppose. Some people don’t want to hear that cheerleaders can be smart bc it ruins their fantasy or, for others, perhaps seems really unfair (why should one person be beautiful, happy, smart, and successful?)

    i find this attitude incredibly uninformed and insular. "you don't like science cheerleaders? well, you're just jealous!" you seriously pass this off as a valid dismissal for anyone who disagrees with you? that doesn't come off as particularly enlightened or mature, and certainly does nothing to endear your cause to me.

    i can cite all kinds of personal stories too, about how i played soccer instead, and yet somehow i was satisfied enough with my (apparently inferior? news to me!) existence that i didn't need to fantasize anything about the cheerleaders. frankly, as my life went on i didn't have the time to worry too much about them. but generalizing an anecdote to evidence that all girls will respond one way or another is hyperbole at best and disingenuous at worst.

    all the same, without having been a cheerleader, i managed beautiful, happy, smart and successful. now more than anything i have to ask myself, however did i pull that off?

    • rocky says:

      Funny, I didn't read the same thing in Darlene's comment quoted above. For me, unpleasant reminders from high school had nothing to do with jealously and everything to do with the fact that many of them were just bitchy and mean. Of course, most of them grew out of that horrible stage.

      I see this effort as targeting girls who already have an interest in cheerleading (which is a huge number) and trying to present something new to be interested in at the same time. I am very curious to see what kind of results the program finds.

      • leigh says:

        the implication of jealousy, to me, came in the bit concerning the presumed judgment of "unfairness" of one person holding all of those oh-so-important qualities. presuming, of course, that the disliking party was missing one or more of those valued qualities and has a problem with one person "having it all" so to speak.

        that's just how i read it.

  • becca says:

    For the record, I didn't go to high school, and I still have a relatively negative opinion of cheerleading. Obviously, there must be *other* reasons some women just aren't huge fans. Which is apparently just impossible to fathom???

  • ginger says:

    Very late to the party, but I went to a high school without sport and thus without cheerleaders. I don't care about cheerleaders as such, but my background compels me to point out that by their very nature, cheerleaders are there in an ancillary capacity to the Main Show, whatever that may be. Soliciting girls' interest in science by providing cheerleaders as role models necessarily solicits their interest at an ancillary level rather than as the Main Show. To me, that worsens the problem.

    We need more women in the role of Marie Curie, not in the role of poor Rosalind Franklin. Girls should know that they can be PIs, not just SuperTechs. (Note: there is nothing wrong with any individual woman deciding to be a SuperTech; the problem is that there is a pattern wherein PIs are mostly male and SuperTechs mostly female. http://www.nature.com/ncb/journal/v11/n8/full/ncb0809-915.html )

    • Karen says:

      ginger, you are certainly right about scientists (and thank you!), but not quite on point about cheerleaders. Those girls and women are serious jocks. If you have access to ESPN-2, check out some of their competitions. Cheerleaders don't care about football or basketball -- they care about cheer.

  • Jonny says:

    Extremely late to the party, but I've never seen a cheerleader who was a successful scientist / professional. So if they do exist, then videos like this one need far more exposure. Some of you see cheer-leading scientists and think sexual objectification. I see cheer-leading scientists and think well-rounded and balanced jock and nerd characteristics in the same individual. To be frank, I find it a bit intimidating.

  • To Darlene says:

    Hi Darlene

    I just happen to see this post and I am glad that you have clarify the intent of the video to an audience of scientists, I think, who by their own nature and training are open minded.

    My reading on the video has been that what it wanted to show is that science is fun and can be fun utilizing the scheme we are used to see with sports. In my view, it is one way of expressing that science is joy, camaraderie, bringing people together. We are in many ways bombarded through newspapers, blogs, etc with the sad reality of scientists having a hard time getting funded, having an awful time getting their work published or recognized , out of their jobs for unfair reasons etc.. that it is getting harder and harder for non-scientists people as well as youngsters to see science as an activity through which we can contribute to make our world better and have a good time in spite of the difficulties and challenges that the essence of science imposes on us.

    I feel surprised and disappointed at the overreaction but I guess that we are all diverse in our perception of reality and our response to it. Why would that be intimidating?. I don’t have an answer but I know that science is openness to infinite possibilities and expressions. We scientists have an enormous privilege in having the opportunity to show that with facts every day in our professional lives.

    Thanks Darlene

  • [...] discussion at LabSpaces. A lot of the discussion relates to the portrayal of women and stereotypes. Scicurious makes some interesting points, including the fact that cheering means that you aren’t doing. [...]

  • […] discussion at LabSpaces. A lot of the discussion relates to the portrayal of women and stereotypes. Scicurious makes some interesting points, including the fact that cheering means that you aren’t doing. […]

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