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Guest Post: Science, It’s Your Thing


[Earlier this year, the European Commission launched Science: It’s A Girl Thing. It’s an initiative to inspire young women to take an interest in science, both at school and as a career, to address the strong gender imbalance in that field. The launch video provoked considerable backlash and was withdrawn very quickly. There is now a competition to produce a replacement video. Submissions are coming from a range of people, reflecting genuine popular ideas about how to get more women into science. Voting is open to everyone, and closes on Monday 26th November.

 An old friend of mine from school, Flora Vincent, is part of a team who are taking part. In a bit to help raise awareness of their video, I sent Flora a few questions. Her answers ended up as this guest post. Enjoy!]

We are a group of 10 students (the majority of us are scientists; there are 4 men and 6 women) who have come together to use a new tool to answer scientific questions for non-scientists, or for scientists who are just not familiar with the topic. The tool is what we call “Doodle videos”: dynamic drawings completed by a voice-over. You may have heard of minutephysics, ViHart or ASAP Science that are already  using this technique successfully on Youtube. We fixed our time limit to less than 2 minutes, so that no one gets bored, and to keep the videos punchy.

It’s actually a combination of circumstances that made us want to participate in the European Commission’s contest “Science it’s a girl thing”. We all had in mind the disastrous attempt of the EU to attract women in science when they released a totally inadequate video mixing techno-music/flashing lights/mini-skirts/make-up/women… and science. Two weeks ago, we were struggling with our first video “Draw me Why the Sky is blue” when Stephane (one of the team members) sent us an email saying “Hey guys, what about that contest?” We all immediately agreed, excited by the subject, the tight deadline (we had two weeks!); in a word,:by the challenge!

It took us two weeks to make the video, but not full-time of course. Actual actions like shooting or editing the video don’t take a lot of time, but all the discussion around the script and the best way to illustrate it took us a few hours in total. If the video had been longer, we could have added other statistics showing that science is gender-biased, and we would have focused more on showing that science is cool and exciting. It was our choice and strategy to insist on the biases in science, but we had less time to talk about why we think scientific jobs are fantastic jobs. Maybe for a next video!

The goal of the video is to encourage more young women to choose science as a career, so our target audience would be girls and women between 10 to 30 years old. But at the same time, because the mechanism we use is a feeling of injustice, we expect this video to talk to everybody, men included.

All the statistics in the video come from the Gender In Science website Finding the statistics was not the bulk of our work – we focused more on how to present them. We’re conscious that some arguments, for instance the use of male rats in experiments, are totally legitimate and explained. Research papers on the subject seem scarce, but you can find a few blog posts on the web dealing with the subject.

For crash test dummies:

For seat belts:

For the prescription drugs (pdf):

For the use of male rat in pain studies (pdf):

For the increase of performance:

[Thanks Flora! You can vote for Flora’s video and see the other entries to the competition here.

I also persuaded Flora to submit a Science Shoeoff, so watch this space!]

From → science

  1. Flora permalink

    Alex, I hope you’re doing well. We actually won the contest:) Thanks for all you r help, lets keep in touch!

    • Well done Flora & team! I’m glad I was able to help and I look forward to seeing your follow-ups!

  2. sTeamTraen permalink

    It’s a great video, with one point to which I would take exception (because it doesn’t make a good point and is easy for skeptics to attack). I’m thinking about the statistic from 00:08 to 00:12 that “4 out of 5 drugs withdrawn from the US market between 1997 and 2000 posed greater health risks for women than for men”. It’s a small sample, it’s 12 years old, it could well be that you could get the opposite result if you looked in some other 4-year period, and frankly it feels cherry-picked even if it wasn’t. (You could also argue that it also shows that measurements of the effects of drugs on health *do* apparently take women into account.)

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Guest Post: Science: It’s A Girls’ Thing Yet « Alexander Brown .info
  2. Guest Post: Science: It’s Not A Girl Thing Yet « Alexander Brown .info
  3. Guest Post: Science, It’s Not A Girl Thing Yet « Alexander Brown .info
  4. Guest post: Winning, It’s Flora’s Thing « Alexander Brown .info

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