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Guest post: Winning, It’s Flora’s Thing


Many readers will already be familiar with the Science: It’s A Girl Thing! launch video fiasco. If you can bear to watch it again (or in case you missed it), here it is again. Cringe.

After the broad-spectrum backlash (including from the programme’s own ambassadors), the video was quickly withdrawn. Attentive to public opinion, the European Commission Science Foundation then ran an open competition to a find a replacement video. My old friend from school, Flora Vincent, recently wrote a guest post for my blog in which she presented her team’s entry. As it happens, the jury (as opposed to the popular vote) selected their video as a winner!

It seemed obvious to me to ask her a few follow-up questions about winning and plans for the future, which she kindly answered below. But first, her team’s winning entry:

  • AB: Congratulations on winning the competition. How did you find out that you’d won?

FV: F5, F5, F5, F5. The results were supposed to come out at the end of the European Gender Summit, in the evening. All the team kept on refreshing the internet page until one of us got the answer and sent everyone an e-mail. This was a bit after midnight. It was a real surprise!

  • How did you feel as your views went up? Were you keeping track of other videos?

We were really astonished to pass 500 views! We spammed our friends and families but, being beginners in the field, we didn’t have so many contacts. However, having a whole week to promote the video changed things a bit. It gave us time to spread the word, to spread it a lot, and seeing the link to our video on American and UK blogs (including yours!) was encouraging! I really understood the power of Twitter and Facebook (amongst others)! Being promoted by people who were followed by more than 20 000 people helped a lot. However, views didn’t mean votes, so even if views went up, we couldn’t directly convert this into votes…

We did keep track of one or two other videos’ views, but to be honest it wasn’t our main concern. I guess we were already so surprised and excited about our own number of views that we didn’t really bother checking other ones.

  • Did you watch any of the other videos in the competition? Were there any you thought were particularly good?

We did take the time to see the other videos at least once. We were curious to see how people understood the contest. From what we saw, there were as many interpretations as they were videos!

I can’t remember which videos we liked specifically. From a personal point of view, watching other videos gave me the impression that we had “missed the target”. I had the feeling our video gave too many facts, and didn’t encourage  girls to do science enough. This was the first video our group had ever made, so we learned a lot. One central question is undoubtedly who you want to target. The other video that won the jury prize was definitely more directed towards young girls. I think both videos were pretty complementary.

[AB: The other video selected by the jury:]

  • What was the team’s reaction to winning? Were you surprised?

Our first reaction was joy of course!!! We were really glad because it meant a lot. It meant doodle videos were efficient in passing on a message, it meant the content of our video was convincing, that the drawings were good… We were confident at the beginning of the contest, but doubts kept on increasing throughout the week until not being sure at all that we would win anything… So yes, we were surprised!

  • Your team won €1500. What will you do with the prize?

Buy some decent equipment for making more videos, such as microphones, board pens… Oh yes, crisps and beer for the next session..! We actually won more than just money; for instance, getting in contact with so many people devoted to gender issues in science, or getting coverage in the most popular daily French newspaper Le Monde was priceless.

  • So what’s next?

We received a lot of encouragement following the victory. Bloggers, journalists, academics, associations… So with a friend, we figured out we’d create a club in our Research Centre (the CRI, see also previous post) dedicated to questions concerning gender in science. The club’s main goals consist in showing there’s a bias in science, and showing young people that science is fascinating. Also, weekly meetings will enable us to organise conferences and debates. The ultimate goal is to create a kind of nebula, that should go beyond borders, regardless of your job, but regrouping people concerned by the issue of gender in science.

One key action will be to go into secondary and high schools to encourage youngsters to get into science. We want the sessions to be interactive, with games, exchange, in one word…cool! The launch event will take place on the Thursday 10 January 2013. If one of your readers happens to be in Paris at that time… Do not hesitate!! Join!

AB: Thanks Flora!

From → science

  1. Dear Alexander,

    We would like to bring your attention to the fact that the video contest highlighted in your blog entry was not launched by the European Commission. Indeed, it was co-organized by Curt Rice and the European Science Foundation (ESF). Together with genSET, ESF co-convened the European Gender Summit during which the winning videos were announced.
    You will find more information on the contest at

    The European Commission was involved in the jury for the selection of the winning videos and congratulates all the winners!

    The Campaign Team

    • Thanks for your comment!

      Sorry for the mistake – I got the impression it was the EC based on various things I had read in the media. I have changed the text of this post to reflect your correction.

  2. Wonderful article! I wrote up a little description of how we did the contest, and again highlighted the winners here:
    Science: It’s your thing! 3 steps to a crowdsourcing success
    And it’s great to see the note from “The Campaign Team” above, too. The campaign is really good, and everyone should check out the site:
    The contest was just a little fun to support the EC is their good work🙂

    • Thanks for your comment, Curt. I also liked reading your posts about the campaign and the competition.

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