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.