EC tries to fix offensive #sciencegirlthing campaign with #realwomeninscience fix
Oh dear. On the same day that Femfresh’s Facebook account took a consumer battering for its childish euphemisms, instead of using the word vagina, the European Commission committed its own social media crimes with an online ad – completely doused in pink – designed to get young women into science.
It has been branded offensive by some, with young women strutting like catwalk models, and dressed for a night clubbing with a techno sound track. Hardly the right message, but unlike Femfresh, the EC is trying to fix its mistakes through Twitter – apparently to great success.
The offending ad, released on Thursday last week for its “Science: It’s a girl thing!” campaign, combines trashy Euro-pop with lots of pink, lots of lipstick, a petri-dish or two and a male model in a lab-coat for good measure giving it a kind of reverse ‘Weird Science’ feel. It even replaces the ‘I’ in ‘science’ with a lipstick.
The ad was a teaser for the EC’s campaign that aims to get young women to seriously consider a career in science. Targeting 13-17 year old girls, the initiative aims to tackle the stats showing that EU-wide, women only make up 32% of career researchers, while women are still under represented within the areas of science, mathematics and computing.
Though the EC undeniably had its heart in the right place, the execution by contracted company Emakina left a sour, edible-glittered taste in people’s mouths.
Predictably, the ad took a battering from the general public – science enthusiasts or otherwise. It has already racked up almost 4,000 dislikes compared to only 550 likes. One woman who commented on YouTube compared it to a “commercial” while a woman scientist said she was “extremely offended and disgusted by such ignorance and discrimination!!! This is the real world people; not Hollywood-made scientific barbies”.
Wired’s Olivia Solon called it “the bastard offspring of a Barry M ad and the results of searching for ‘science’ in a stock image library,” which is pretty spot on, and if you didn’t get a chance to watch it before the EC took it down from Youtube on Friday, less than a day after it went live, it’s embedded in Solon’s post.
But not all hope is lost – on Saturday the EC made good of the negative Twitter comments attached to the campaign’s original #sciencegirlthing label, and created another hashtag, #realwomeninscience, from its @EU_Commission account. It tweeted:
— European Commission(@EU_Commission) June 22, 2012
That was on Saturday, and after an overwhelmingly positive response, the list reached its maximum of 500 inspirational tweeting female scientists and science journalists by Sunday, leading the EC to create a second list. Maybe Femfresh could take a few pointers from other organisation’s feminism fails for a similar result in future.