Friday, July 13, 2012

On Science

Over my sandwich and a steaming mug of coffee during my lunch break, I often unwind by reading science articles and blogs on Discover Magazine. There, I've openly admitted my pseudo-geek and nerd-like tendencies on this blog for all to see. 

A few weeks ago, there was an uproar among the scienctific community that had nothing to do with the Higgs Boson. Everyone was talking about a certain promotional video that was released by the EU to encourage young women to get involved in science. Turns out, the scientific community found the video extremely distasteful that I had to watch it for myself. Here it is, below.




To be honest, if I was a young girl on the brink of deciding between arts or science as my future career, I don't think this video would sway my final decision towards science. I thought it was shallow on the whole, like a comment a lab assistant once gave me a long time ago when I first started working. I have long nails most of the time, but it's not because I keep them long for beauty purposes (a manicurist might cry if she sees my hands), but because I always seem to forget to clip my nails. I was removing paint from my fingers at the sink in the lab and had trouble removing the bit under my nails. He looked at me and remarked that we work in a paint factory and not in a lipstick factory. Whatever was that supposed to mean? All I knew is that is was the shallowest and most sexist comment I've heard in a long time. Many men keep their nails long too. 

I understand that there are probably less women scientists than there are men, but is the shortage of women actually really caused by the fact that  they can't wear pretty clothes or can't use make up at work?  

Or are there other underlying factors such as the lack of opportunities to get hired because they are women and are expected to *get married and 'go and have babies someday'. What if the woman had a professor tell her it's not worth it going into research as she's a woman (long hours and no time for herself) and advised her to teach instead because that would suit her better? Or what if she really, really just isn't interested?

*My friend who did Chemical Engineering with me back in uni had this said to her when she was being interviewed for a job.

14 comments:

  1. There are less women in science than men, a lot less, but yeah to say it's because of things like a lack of pink is just patronising. I'm surprised you didn't slap the man who said that to you. My nails get long, and it is that I just forget to clip them. If you want to get female scientists then appeal to their intelligence, the thing that got them interested in the first place, and not their girly side.

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    1. Yes, I suppose that is what irritated all those scientists as well, how the ad tried to approach the girls girly side.

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  2. >it's a girl thing
    >2012
    Ahahaha I don't want to live in this world anymore.

    Can't we all just, like, put aside the idea that some jobs are "man jobs" and others are "woman jobs"? Seriously, equality, mother truckers!
    Disgusting to see commercials like that.

    Also, I have the tendency to have my fingernails be long-ish as well. Too bad that doesn't mix well with me playing the guitar. ):

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    1. Hopefully we are moving towards that direction, but I can't really say. I still do see ads for 'male preferred' in certain engineering jobs although according to statistics, there are more women graduates these days.

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  3. My first response to the video was "ugh, pathetic" but then I thought, maybe it's not such a bad thing. You see SO much of that kind of stuff about fashion and nails that it is refreshing and a bit thought provoking to see the scientific aspect of it too.
    Since I never had the slightest chance of becoming a scientist, I can't say categorically whether it would have appealed to me but I don't THINK it would at all!

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    1. I suppose make up is basically science. The pigments in face powder and paint are basically the same thing. They could have approached it that way, and I think it wouldn't be too bad as it would be a way to say that science is not all about space travel, or engines and nuclear power but also things that we use daily.

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  4. Yeah it is so stupid, things can be done by both and if one can and want to do them, they should be able too.

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  5. I saw that video before - dopey.

    I think there is general discrimination against women in a variety of fields and I also think girls aren't encouraged, usually, to excel in math and science. I hope that's slowly changing.

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    1. There is, definitely - like my friend's interview experience. Even when I was interviewed in my first job, my (then) boss who interviewed me showed me a paint stain on his uniform and said that's how I'd end up looking as well (I think it was to subtly tell me that I could not hope to look nice if I worked there) I on my 8th year working there now.

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  6. I don't know what they'll do to convince kids there is a career in science or engineering. Most of them seem to want to be footballers or win a TV talent show and their parents and the education system seem to indulge these fantasies.

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    1. I suppose playing football and winning TV talent shows are attractive in their own ways. Perhaps schools don't make science as attractive as they could. As far as I can't remember, they didn't allow us to use a whole lot of equipment because they were too expensive. A lot of the more interesting experiments were conducted by the teacher and we were merely observers. Even in undergraduate level, we were not allowed to use the gas chromatograph on our own. The lecturer did a demo and that was it.

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  7. If it makes you feel any better the video has one of the largest dislike bars on youtube. Its almost like a spoof of a terrible recruitment drive advert. But there is a lot of 'Beyond satire' terrible media out in the world. It made me laugh though.

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    1. I suppose it is something we could laugh at someday. I never noticed the number of dislikes on youtube,though.

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