The Most Unintentionally Sexist Attempt to Empower Women.
The video, allegedly made to attract more women to “science”, features a club beat, neon, and fashionable women posing sexily and making bedroom eyes at the camera. And what, pray tell, are we led to believe that these mini-dress (because that’s what everyone wears in a laboratory) clad ladies are creating using (but not touching) bubbling beakers and booty shakin’? Lipstick, of course!
Was that the Earth-shattering thump of a collective headdesk I just heard? Because it should have been.
With one SNL-worthy video, the male dominated fields of science and politics have united to prove just how far their inability to treat women like actual human beings really goes. Is it the assumption that women aren’t interested in science that is most offensive? Or the assumption that one can lure women into scientific pursuits with a lot of pink, a catchy slogan, and the promise of the ability to make lipstick?
Okay, males of male-dominated fields everywhere, since you seem so disastrously confused, I will level with you. Here is the ultimate, ultra-confidential, never heard before secret of why women don’t want to enter your field: It’s not the field, it’s you.
When we are children, you gift us dolls and kitchens instead of miniature planetariums and gooey science kits. You give us commercials that tell us that making cool science-y stuff and blowing things up is for boys only and placate our developing psyches with kitchen sets, fluffy pink animals, and the occasional crayon melter. When we get to high school, you give the boys a second chance in science and math and try so hard to make sure they get it, and assume that we don’t get it because we’re too dumb, too grossed out, or too disinterested. When one of us goes above and beyond for a project, you say she didn’t follow instructions or accuse her of cheating. You do not see it as proof of a budding scientist, you act like it is a fluke and move on. At best, you encourage us to become teachers.
When we enter your fields regardless of everyone assuming that we will fail? Well, when we do that, you treat us like the heavens sent us to be your girlfriend. You hit on us whenever possible. You tell us we’re impressive “for a girl”. If we’re not pretty enough or don’t wear enough make up, you ignore us and shun us. If we wear make up, you make fun of us for wearing make up in a lab. If we dress “like a boy”, you make jokes about how we’re not “real girls” and if we dress “like a girl”, you make jokes about that.
And if we fail? Not altogether. Just once. If we fail JUST ONCE, if we mess ONE thing up ONE TIME. You act like it’s proof that women are just not meant to do science. Or math.
Or fix cars.
Here’s a secret: I have always wanted to be an auto mechanic. But I’m not. And I may never be. And it’s not because I can’t or because I’m already doing something else or because it’s not the most profitable of professions. I love fixing cars. I love learning about cars and all the things that make them do all the things they do. I love figuring out how to tell what’s wrong with one just by hearing that weird sound it’s been making lately. But I will most likely never pursue that and it is entirely, 100%, all your fault. Because if I so much as attended one class I would be made fun of, shit on at every possible opportunity, and probably be denied any actual knowledge because I am a woman. And if I should make it through school without tearing anyone’s face off? Who would hire me? Who would hire the inexperienced female auto mechanic? And if I did get hired I’d have years of dealing with sexist-ass co-workers, bosses, customers, and strangers to deal with. I don’t even want to think about the amount of sexual harassment I would have to endure every day. Eventually I could open my own shop. But who would give a loan to a female auto mechanic and who would try out a new shop owned and operated by a woman?
Need more proof? My best friend is a Biology major. Her advisor told her that she needed at least a 3.6 GPA if she wanted to even consider applying for grad school. She had a 3.2 at the time. He told a male student of the same major, in the same year, who was in almost all the same classes she was that his 3.2 GPA was “not ideal, but still impressive for such a difficult major”.
More? When my sister was assigned an extra credit project in 8th grade to make a car out of K’nex and rubber bands that could travel (self-propelled) at least 10 feet, she built one that sped the 40 feet across the classroom and slammed into a wall. When they took it into the hallway it went 80 feet. Her male teacher accused her of “getting outside help” and refused to give her any of the extra credit. Her male principal agreed. The summer after that, she and 3 of her friends built a hovercraft. FOR FUN. But she couldn’t convince her guidance counselor to let her into the advanced science class. And when she lost motivation and started not turning in homework, even though she was getting A’s on her tests and in-class work and repeatedly telling her teacher and her guidance counselor that she was BORED and FRUSTRATED, they moved her into a remedial class. She wanted to be an aerospace engineer. She wants to figure out how to build livable space stations and design rockets. And she absolutely CAN. This girl was doing the math problems in my ACT prep book when she was 11 YEARS OLD! But who wants to spend their life being talked down to, laughed at, and written off?
So, menfolk, you see it is not that we women are NOT INTERESTED in male-dominated fields, it is that we are not interested in putting up with a bunch of douchebags who want to attribute our every move to our gender. If you want to attract more women, all you have to do is QUIT BEING MISOGYNIST ASS WIPES! That’s literally all you have to do. Take a gender studies class, open up some Bell Hooks and some Audre Lorde, and remember Rosalind Franklin and Patricia Bath and know that there could have been millions more female scientists if it weren’t exclusively for your shitty discriminatory attitudes.
Better yet, spend as much money as you did making this sexist disaster of a video and hire some some amazing womanist lady scientists (preferably of color) to make you a brand spanking new video about how much it sucks to be a woman in a male-dominated field. And then require that all male scientists who want to keep their jobs watch it repeatedly until they are as done with misogyny as I am.