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A campaign in Europe meant to attract more women to the sciences has drawn a strong backlash.
Why do male researchers outnumber female researchers? It's because the lab coats just aren't cute enough, a new European advertisement seems to be suggesting. A new video released by a European Union commission features stylish, attractive women in high heels and short dresses marching toward a man in a white coat. The ad then features shots of lipstick, nail polish and Bunsen burners, all set to techno music. At the end of the ad is the campaign's tagline: "Science: It's a girl thing."
The campaign, launched Thursday, is part of an ongoing effort to draw more women into the sciences, the Agence France Presse reported. According to the EU, women represent more than half of the students across the European Union and 45 percent of all doctorates. However, only one third of career researchers in the EU are women.
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"Science does not just mean old men in white coats," said Research and Science Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn told the AFP. "The under-representation of women in a sector so vital to our economy does not make sense at a time when Europe is fighting for more growth and jobs."
However, some have complained that the ad campaign is condescending. "This kind of campaign insults women who are interested in science already," the New Statesman argues. And the Science Punk blog says that the ad "seems to assume that it's impossible for women to be interested in chemistry unless it's in the context of cosmetics."
While many bloggers argue that the execution of the campaign is off, they do agree with the underlying goals of the campaign. The Guardian came up with a solution to expressing both sentiments on its Twitter feed: "Hashtag of the day: #realwomenofscience because we think the #sciencegirlthing teaser is a travesty," the Guardian posted.
Watch the video below: