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Sexy Female Scientist Video Draws Fire 404

Posted by timothy
from the marie-curie-or-mary-lou-jepson-or-danica-mckellar dept.
sciencehabit writes "A new video released by the The European Commission — ostensibly aimed at getting girls interested in science — is drawing widespred condemnation from around the web for its depiction of female scientists as sexy models strutting into the frame in high heels and short skirts. A male scientist watching them from behind his microscope doesn't seem to mind that none of them are wearing safe lab attire—he just pops his glasses on for a better look. The rest of the video is a mish-mash of heels, nail polish, lipstick, and sexily smoldering Erlenmeyer flasks, arbitrarily punctuated by girly giggles." The Commission denies that the video (since pulled) was a parody, but they've certainly set the bar high for anyone who wanted to make an actual parody.
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Sexy Female Scientist Video Draws Fire

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  • by rossdee (243626) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @02:23PM (#40422579)

    Whats wrong with sexy female scientists - they have them in movies.

    • by Golddess (1361003) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @02:45PM (#40422759)
      Nothing. But seems like it'd do more to attract men to the field.
    • Re:Whats the problem (Score:5, Informative)

      by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @02:47PM (#40422773)

      Whats wrong with sexy female scientists - they have them in movies.

      Or, applying the term "scientist" more liberally, on the Mythbusters - Kari Byron [wikipedia.org] - though technically, she's an artist. (Women, take your pick from the other hosts, I'm sticking with Kari.)

      More seriously, I know a few women scientists and I can confirm that in many, many cases, the old adage "Beauty * Brains = Constant" is false. Personally, I think smart girls are sexy - end of story.

      • by tqk (413719) <s.keeling@mail.com> on Saturday June 23, 2012 @03:22PM (#40422987)

        Whats wrong with sexy female scientists - they have them in movies.

        My favourite person in the whole world is a female (computer) scientist, and it irks me no end that she has no interest in me of a sexual nature. Moan. Drat.

        Personally, I think smart girls are sexy - end of story.

        Personally, I think the only girls worth even considering are smart girls. You can have the rest. I won't miss the loss.

        OBSTRef: Seven of Nine (assimilate me already, damnit!), Jeri Ryan! Drool.

      • Re:Whats the problem (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Dekker3D (989692) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @03:43PM (#40423133)

        I'd have to agree that Kari Byron both pulls off the "sexy" and "scientist" part better than these girls. And she's not even a scientist, nor trying (or at least this obviously) to be sexy.

      • Re:Whats the problem (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Shavano (2541114) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @04:46PM (#40423561)
        It's totally untrue. There's actually a small positive correlation between IQ and good looks. One hypothesis is both result from good genes. The other is that men attribute intelligence to pretty women. (See halo effect. We also imagine pretty women to be virtuous, witty and nice.)
      • Re:Whats the problem (Score:4, Interesting)

        by iamhassi (659463) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @05:44PM (#40423997) Journal

        Or, applying the term "scientist" more liberally, on the Mythbusters - Kari Byron [wikipedia.org] - though technically, she's an artist. (Women, take your pick from the other hosts, I'm sticking with Kari.)

        horrible example. She's a film student they hired because she's pretty and they needed a pretty face on the show. [wikipedia.org] BA in Film and Sculpture. Complete opposite of science. No science jobs, no science training, no interest in science, she's just a model.

        Jeri Ellsworth is a MUCH better example of a sexy female scientist. [wikipedia.org] She invented the Commodore 64 emulator within a joystick, a popular toy that sold well on QVC and at Walmart. And check out these sexy photos of her soldering a circuit board. [lifehacker.com]

        • Pamela Stephenson - in the "Not the Nine O'Clock News" comedy series, one of the Superman movies and for many years a psychologist and author. She may be married to Billy Connelly but that's a relevant as Richard Dawkins being married to Lalla Ward (2nd Romana in Dr Who).
      • More seriously, I know a few women scientists and I can confirm that in many, many cases, the old adage "Beauty * Brains = Constant" is false. Personally, I think smart girls are sexy - end of story.

        That's true enough, but unfortunately the few exceptions to "beautiful, intelligent, sane; pick two" that I've found are already taken. :-X

    • by masternerdguy (2468142) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @02:57PM (#40422823)
      The main issue is that this video is not an accurate depiction of lab work. It's an idiotic thing that would have been a great 80s music video.
      • by mwvdlee (775178) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @03:19PM (#40422947) Homepage

        An accurate depiction of lab work wouldn't attract anybody, simply because no advert could ever be long enough to capture the true nature of a science (or in fact, any) job.

        The problem is in trying to create a video at all. Ask female scientists why they got into science and create something that triggers those buttons in girls.
        Most likely female scientists didn't become scientists because they wanted to look at pretty colors in glass tubes all day.

        • by kikito (971480)

          > simply because no advert could ever be long enough to capture the true nature of a science (or in fact, any) job.

          I would say that it's impossible to do *for the people that do ads*. I can think of 3 or 4 different ways of capturing the nature of science in 30 seconds or less.

          Trouble is, I know nothing about doing ads.

      • by tqk (413719)

        The main issue is that this video is not an accurate depiction of lab work. It's an idiotic thing that would have been a great 80s music video.

        It's a fricken PSA commercial, and a bad one at that. "Give us some glitz, then sprinkle some science on top, please."

        Ick. I'm not sure I'd consider it sexist, but I do consider it bad.

        • by EdIII (1114411) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @05:10PM (#40423719)

          Ick. I'm not sure I'd consider it sexist, but I do consider it bad.

          Ohhh, it's sexist.

          Using good looking models? Not so sexist. Using very well dressed good looking models? Well women scientists are still women. They can dress nice.

          Showing lab equipment, chemical equations, and elements interspersed with cosmetics in a flagrant advertising-douchy way as if that is the only way to keep the attention of women watching it, or to participate in science?

          Sexist. Most definitely.

      • The main issue is that this video is not an accurate depiction of lab work. It's an idiotic thing that would have been a great 80s music video.

        But that video is an accurate depiction of the science of marketing. Sexist, misleading, uninformative, and attention grabbing (even if it is of the wrong reasons).

    • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @03:03PM (#40422873) Journal

      Whats wrong with sexy female scientists - they have them in movies.

      Movies and real life are not necessarily the same thing, or remotely comparable.

      I'm not certain how my oldest daughter will react to this, even if it's presented in a neutral way. Pointing this video out to her without giving away my own views will be difficult, as it's so appalling. We'll find out tomorrow, and I'm not sure whether she'll laugh or snarl at it. Either way, I'll get an ear-full afterwards. BTW, she wants to be an astronaut, and is getting top marks in maths, physics, English, French and Russian to smooth her way (her first language is Finnish), and had completed senior high math while in junior high.

      • by tqk (413719)

        I'm not certain how my oldest daughter will react to this, even if it's presented in a neutral way. Pointing this video out to her without giving away my own views will be difficult, as it's so appalling.

        Don't. Tell her about Marie Curie instead.

        It's not really all that appalling; just silly/stupid. It's not like you're watching Madonna or the Bieber, after all.

        • I'm not certain how my oldest daughter will react to this, even if it's presented in a neutral way. Pointing this video out to her without giving away my own views will be difficult, as it's so appalling.

          Don't. Tell her about Marie Curie instead.

          It's not really all that appalling; just silly/stupid. It's not like you're watching Madonna or the Bieber, after all.

          Yep. She has heroines as well as heroes. She's well aware of Marie Curie, Maria Goeppert-Mayer, Ingrid Daubechies and many others [wikipedia.org]. The appalling thing is, this video was supposed to inspire females to become scientists, and was made on behalf of the European Commission. Now that really sucks.

      • by Pieroxy (222434)

        Don't show her this video. It serves no purpose. This video only proves one thing: That the guys that made it don't have the first clue what science is all about.

        I can already imagine the big manager / politician saying to his underling: "Get me cool pictures of science"
        Underling: Uhhh, what?
        Cretin: You know, something beautiful that catches the eye...
        U: Uhhhh, like something that explodes with colors?
        C: Yeah, that's it! That and girls. Get me sexy girls too.
        U: Uhhh, ok boss. Whataver you say.
        U (leaving the

    • Re:Whats the problem (Score:4, Informative)

      by Pro-feet (2668975) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @05:06PM (#40423689)
      My wife is a sexy scientist. Really. She loves high heels and nail polish. And physics. Believe me, it's true.
  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by oakgrove (845019) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @02:24PM (#40422585)
    A story where everybody reads the article!
  • Umm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by trifish (826353) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @02:25PM (#40422591)

    I can imagine somebody was trying to address a number one concern of girls: It's not a sexy enough job! And I can't be sexy doing it, either.

  • Well I was confused (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 23, 2012 @02:26PM (#40422605)

    I'll be honest, until I saw the tagline at the end, I thought this was a makeup commercial.

  • by arcite (661011) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @02:29PM (#40422655)
    I'm all for this. We need more sex in the workplace. A sexy work environment, is a productive work environment.
    • A sexy work environment, is a productive work environment.

      ...if you work at an artificial insemination clinic or are otherwise in need of more male bodily fluids, that is.

  • Oh God (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MAXOMENOS (9802) <maxomai.gmail@com> on Saturday June 23, 2012 @02:43PM (#40422745) Homepage
    This video is awful on so many levels.

    If you really want to close the gender gap, show girls the video of Ariel Waldman's talk at last year's OSCON. That..was awesome.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      http://arielwaldman.com/2011/07/29/oscon/

  • Why? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Why do people insist on closing the gender gap just for the sake of closing the gender gap? Is the goal to make more or better science come out of Europe? No, its just to have more female scientists, so that progressives can have a warm fuzzy feeling, but that will never happen, because someone who wants equality of result will never be satisfied.

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 23, 2012 @05:35PM (#40423925)

      While there may be some who would be content with closing the gender gap on general principle, for most of us the goal is not warm fuzzies, it really is more and better science. One of the problems we have is that since there are so few women in the sciences, it is very hard to attract new women, even if they have the aptitude. So, the woman who had the potential to be a brilliant bio-chemist goes off and gets a degree in French literature instead and we are down a brilliant bio-chemist. Will all of the women who are attracted by these kinds of efforts make significant scientific advancements? Of course not. Most of the men in the sciences won't either. However, if we can't attract new women to the sciences, we are, in essence, shutting out half of the population from whence these advances could come. This isn't the only reason to want to close the gender gap, but hopefully it will at least convince you that the efforts are not just some pointless progressive feel-good program.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      We insist on closing it because there is no evidence to support the theory that biological differences make one gender or another better "suited" to certain roles.

      We insist on closing it because there is a constant drumbeat of warnings about how we don't have enough people earning qualifications for STEM careers in college graduating, and we're going to have massive shortfalls - yet somewhere approaching 50% of the population (depending on the field - some fields have higher participation rates than others,

  • by Wootery (1087023) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @02:47PM (#40422777)

    Judging by the 'tweets', what seems to be the original [youtube.com] has been made 'private', i.e. taken-down. (I'm assuming that was the official YouTube posting - I can't find anything more official looking.)

    As well as the mirror [sciencemag.org] linked in the summary, we have a Youtube mirror [youtube.com], and another non-Youtube mirror [telegraph.co.uk].

    Why would they bother? Do they really not realise that if you release something high-profile on the web, it's out for good?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Do they really not realise that if you release something high-profile on the web, it's out for good?

      "The European Commission". You're probably american if you're seriously asking this? They are bureaucrats, the web is something someone prints out for them to read.

    • Do they really not realise that if you release something high-profile on the web, it's out for good?

      Did the people responsible for that video not realise how the internet works? I'm gonna guess no.

  • by Monkey-Man2000 (603495) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @02:50PM (#40422793)
    I don't know about American labs, but this is how we roll in Europe. Especially, Biology labs...
  • First of all (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mapkinase (958129) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @02:56PM (#40422821) Homepage Journal

    Why does anybody want to advertise this way?

    Does science career needs THIS type or any type of advertising?

    People who go to science and people who science need to go into science, have completely different channels of getting into science, being highborn for example (science is one of the most hereditary professions in the world).

    Science does not need extra people, science does not need advertising.

    If science had a want in people, postdocs won't be living on meager 50K a year salary, grown 35 old men with beards and wives.

    Why don't European commission advertise food serving industry, the situation seems quite deplorable there?

    • by turgid (580780)

      I looked at the video, and I actually thought it was ironic, a clever satire on the current state of popular culture.

      There is no way they were being serious. None.

    • 50K a year salary is not "meager". FYI.
      • Re:First of all (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Guppy06 (410832) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @03:58PM (#40423247)

        Compared to tuition it takes to become a postdoc, it is.

      • by mapkinase (958129)

        I lived on 27K in 1996 (postdocs don't get much more than 27K in 1996 dollars nowadays as well). Every month I was given a check and every month before getting that checked, I enjoyed an exclusive delicious damned banana diet. When my family needed extra $3K, I had to enter a testee program.

        Postdocs are extremely underpaid compared to their education.

    • by Guppy06 (410832)

      They don't want more people in science, they specifically want more women. It's an effort to eliminate the embarrassing gender gap, a relative need, than to supply an absolute need.

    • Why does anybody want to advertise this way?

      You have to remember what "way" do people advertise in the first place.

      Typically, they hire an advertising company. Such a company is typically staffed by half-manic artistic types, not skilled enough to for a solo career, but talented enough at faking to be able to impress executive who really haven't got a clue themselves. Thus you have the incompetent leading the blind.

      It goes without saying that almost everyone involved in this group is male and scientifically

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 23, 2012 @02:58PM (#40422829)

    Next stop - stirring more male interest in the nursing profession by making an ad with fast cars in a hospital.

  • I'm just glad that it was the Europeans that did this.
    Imagine what a Japanese one would have looked like. Probably too weird to compute. I'm thinking exploding android head like in I, Mudd.

  • Sexist? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @03:01PM (#40422843) Journal
    Why did no one complain that they used a sexy male model for a scientist too?
    • Because he was hot. It's like they screwed up and made an ad appealing to men instead of women. They should have had a bunch of attractive male scientists strutting around a pretty but not-too-pretty female scientist.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by artor3 (1344997)

      There's a difference between using photogenic actors and actually sexualizing a character. If the male scientist had been performing his work in a Chippendale outfit, people would be more likely to complain. Except, of course, that treating men as sex objects is so uncommon that if they did it, it would have to be some sort of parody.

      • They did sexualize him. Didn't you notice?
        • by artor3 (1344997)

          He was on the screen for literally two seconds. He looks up from his microscope, sees the models walking in, puts on his glasses, and that's it. You could recut that same scene so that it was a random, properly attired coworker coming into the lab, remove the "sexy" music, and you'd have an ordinary day at the office. Sure, the guy's handsome, but that's not the same thing as being sexualized.

      • Oh, he was a sex object. He was far more than merely photogenic. Putting a guy that hot in that role makes it sexual. He was also extremely well-groomed--look at his hair and eyebrows--and he had sexy glasses on. His makeup gave him an extremely smooth face, which is one of the two main sexy male faces, the other being lots of stubble (cf. Ryan Reynolds).

        I can certainly imagine the difference here being too subtle for many straight guys. I certainly didn't analyze the women.

  • by Haedrian (1676506) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @03:01PM (#40422849)

    Because after we fill girls' head with garbage about needing to be tall and thin, needing to wear high heels and makeup and the rest of it; getting them to follow celebrities who do the above... THIS is a problem.

    Baby steps.

    I'm sure every single girl wants to look like an unattractive female scientist wearing a labcoat and geeky safety equipment and looking plain. Especially after the garbage everyone else is throwing into their head.

  • by bs0d3 (2439278)
    that video i just watched just had 3 bimbos who werent sexy in the place of 3 sexy girls in miniskirts
  • by rbh42 (2596333) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @03:03PM (#40422871)
    Please take a look at how things work in Denmark: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZ8_81Qy9kg&feature=BFa&list=UU3B_-v8-6-_6Px0FwBcLTrw [youtube.com] Not at all related to the subject but also funny - and from just across the lawn: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOzwpMs-5bM&feature=BFa&list=UU3B_-v8-6-_6Px0FwBcLTrw [youtube.com]
  • Not to sound like a hippy... but there are large portions of this planet where life is cheap, blood soaks the streets, children are forced into war AND people starve to death. How about we look at those real problems first before we get our panties in a bunch over something so trivial?
    • by hackula (2596247) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @03:34PM (#40423067)
      We can walk and chew gum at the same time. This fallacy is a classic though, so maybe we can just call this argument "vintage".
    • That's exactly why we could use more women in positions of research and power. And for that, we need to stop treating them like shit among other things, and also stop casually dismissing low lifes like you excusing it with a bullshit bluff like that one. You are obsolete and overstayed your welcome, how's that for a response.

  • Horrible (Score:5, Funny)

    by JeremyGNJ (1102465) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @03:18PM (#40422937)
    What a horrible bunch of stereotypes and role models for young girls. Everyone know that to be smart you have to bug ugly or fat.
  • by sandytaru (1158959) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @03:30PM (#40423035) Journal
    I was one of them. When I was 12 I wanted to get a PhD in astrophysics and work for NASA. It wasn't the lack of sexy in science that made me change majors in undergrad, it was calc based physics at 8AM my first semester of college, followed by honors calculus with theory at noon. Bad scheduling on the part of the university did far more to kill my interest in STEM than the lack of female mentoring. I'd probably have had my PhD in physics just in time for NASA to start shutting down if it wasn't for my inadequate alarm clock!
    • by pnot (96038)

      Functioning alarm clocks are pretty cheap. Acquiring one might have constituted a sensible investment in your career.

  • by ryanisflyboy (202507) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @03:35PM (#40423081) Homepage Journal

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3eZQHwGQE0&feature=g-u-u [youtube.com]

    I agree with Dr. Meghan Gray. She is spot on.

    For those not familiar with Brady (the interviewer and editor of the videos), don't take too much offense. He commonly takes an antagonistic view to help draw out a more in-depth response.

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @03:36PM (#40423083) Homepage Journal

    is drawing widespred condemnation from around the web for its depiction of female scientists as sexy models strutting into the frame in high heels and short skirts.

    "Condemnation"? Isn't that a bit strong for what at most deserves a "that's silly"?

    We have completely devalued outrage to the point where it has almost no meaning left at all.

    • Our outrage is devalued because it's mostly completely false. The only real emotion we have left is apathy.

      I would write more, but fuck it.
  • Don't make a big deal about gender, just matter of factly show that there are women out there doing interesting jobs like this: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/video/index.cfm?all_videos&id=960#fragment-5 [nasa.gov]

    Related: exciting video, "Challenges of Getting to Mars: Curiosity's Seven Minutes of Terror": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzqdoXwLBT8 [youtube.com]

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