By Thea Voutiritsas
The latest effort from energy company EDF to get girls engaged in science has created a polarizing debate. The #prettycurious campaign was an attempt to encourage girls to pursue study in the traditionally male-dominated fields of science, but has received much backlash for its seemingly stereotypical view of female scientists. The #prettycurious hashtag has been met on twitter with the counter-hashtag, #prettysexist. The company argues that the wording was an attempt to start a dialogue centered on sexism and science, stating, “It’s not about being ‘pretty’; it’s about being ‘pretty curious.’”
Those opposed of the #prettycurious movement argue that the hashtag perpetuates the idea that women must be pretty to work in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), or that women must link their work with their outward appearance. Supporters argue that the use of the word “pretty” here sends the message that you don’t have to lose your femininity to work in Stem, and that any way to pique girls’ interest in science should be OK.
In my book, EDF should at least get an A for effort. While women continue to be a minority in STEM, the question we should be asking is, “How can we get girls into science?” Not whether adults will find a campaign controversial, or politically incorrect. By arguing over this, we are missing the whole point of the hashtag in the first place, which is to attract girls to science. Rather than focusing our efforts on EDF’s campaign strategy, let’s put some energy into getting girls into Stem at all.
For further reading, visit this post, or search the #prettycurious on Twitter.