European Commission hides controversial ‘Science: It’s a Girl Thing!’ video

25 Jun 2012

Following a severe public backlash, the European Commission has been forced to recall the ‘Science: It’s a Girl Thing!’ promotional video it had released last week as part of its campaign to promote more teenage girls to pursue a career in science.

The furore started last Thursday after the European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn revealed a new three-year science campaign for the 27 EU member states.

At the announcement in Brussels, Belgium, Geoghegan-Quinn spoke about how Europe needs more female scientists and researchers.

“We need them to solve problems like climate change, energy and public health. We need them to help improve our economy and to help provide growth and jobs,” she said.

So far, so good. But the backlash started when people began tuning into the 53-second video the commission had commissioned to promote the science campaign.

The video itself starts off with three females walking purposefully in high heels and outfits, as if on a runway, against the backdrop of dance music. You would almost think you are watching an advertisement for the likes of Rimmel make-up or for the alcoholic beverage Bacardi Breezer, rather than a video to promote science to young people …

Then the trio appear to catch the attention of a male scientist who peers up from his microscope. There’s a lot of dashes of pink, as well as images of sunglasses and lipstick in the ad, so you get the gist of why it might have riled so many people.

Reports are circulating that the digital agency Emakina is behind the video. Other such recent creative outputs from the agency include the Bavaria Babes smartphone app for Euro 2012.

But, the ‘Science: It’s a Girl Thing!’ video is still up on YouTube, so if you haven’t caught it yet, judge for yourself. However, the special EU website that has been set up for the campaign does have some video interviews with real-life women scientists for students who wish to learn more about their careers.


Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic