Through my twitter feed I came across this video:
It’s a campaign of the European Comission to encourage women to work in science/research fields, where they are underrepresented. So apparently to convince women to use their brains for science, the trick is to show them that the finality of research/development could be as well beautification, make up and fashion. After all who are we for being interested in scientific careers for sake of, say, heal cancer, solving mysteries of the Universe or find alternatives to nuclear energy? No, all we want is privilege to develop new lipsticks!
This video is not only very offensive because it suggests women are interested only in their own standardized feminity, it fails also in adressing the real issues of underrepresentation of women in research and science, such as:
- Many female students, few female researcher: the issue is not to bring women interested in science, on a student level they are even majoritary in some fields and have average better marks, the problem here is that women tend to not pursue a scientific career although science interests them. The reasons of this gap between female students and female researcher can be structural (see points 2 and 3) as well as cultural, in a world where women making what is perceived as a “man’s job” is not yet fully accepted.
- Unstable careers: science grants are generally given for 1-2years projects. For example, if a woman quits for a maternity leave, she does can’t be sure the contract will be reconducted at end of the year or if by the time she comes back to work if there is still any work. The other important effect of this is that people who undertake a scientific career have often to move from one country to another before to find a stable position; if the female scientist has a partner or husband, it is generally not accepted socially that she moves and the man generally doesn’t move with his wife. Moreover, if the man is also a scientist (a subtancial part of scientists have a scientist partner), women generally sacrifice their career to follow men.
- Realm of phallocracy: even when having a position, female scientists are lesser paid, obtain fewer top positions and less talk time in conferences. This disparity is due to the fact that in science/research world, many informal decision criteria count, top of them being that generally decisions are taken by committies of men with few or no women among them.
At the end, what worries me is not really women in science, because they will inevitably build their path and obtain equality, but that in 2012, European Commission misunderstands the issues they should be qualified for!