Science can be awesome

This is the University of Maryland’s Gamera II, a human-powered helicopter breaking a world record for human-powered flight.

Yep human -powered.

It makes me want to quit my job and start building my own Max-o-copter.

Of course yesterday while women scientists were helping to make the Gamera II fly for the extra couple of seconds it takes to break the world record, the European commission decided to unveil their “science: it’s a girl thing” campaign.  I won’t insult you with a link, but it is a stunningly sexist take on why women might be interested in science.  Pink clothes, music videos and lip gloss.

s.e. Smith has the insightful analysis of this video over at Tiger Beatdown:

This patronising, pathetic campaign in which science was swaddled in pink sparkles and packaged as something girls can totally do was ridiculous and self-defeating. The video focused entirely on fashion and cosmetics, and the organisation’s site was littered with pinkness and more cosmetics promotion, even though the actual profiles of real women scientists on the site focus on topics like veterinary virology and food security, all of which are fascinating and interesting and might attract interest from young women who would be totally turned off by the offensive framing, and thus are unlikely to see them.

Young women and girls do not in fact need everything to be wrapped in pink in order to be interested in it, nor do they need to see highly traditionalised performances of femininity to believe that something is ‘for them.’ In fact, for girls thinking about science, such displays could be a turnoff; maybe they aren’t interested in performing femininity, or they aren’t conventionally attractive, or, hey, they’re actually smart and independent enough to care about science regardless as to what scientists look like and what they wear in the damn lab, because they’re interested in the research, not the clothes.

via Tiger Beatdown › This may be the most patronising attempt to get girls involved in science ever.

In contrast to the human-powered copter, this misstep seems particularly noxious.  Rather than simply including women in science projects, mentoring women, and encouraging all students to be inquisitive about the world around them, the desire to condescend helps to protect the sciences as the realms of sexism.

Humans are pretty awesome animals and when we get thinking creatively, wonderful stuff emerges.  Cheers to those who believe that everyone is an intellectual.  Cheers to those who trust and like women.  Cheers to those who build flying machines without oil.  And cheers to Zombie Marie Curie who told us all about this years ago . . .

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Filed under academics, bicycle, juxtaposition, learning, representation, resistance

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