Proposals for an EU wide quota for women on boards of companies have sparked widespread debate over the past weeks. Critics of the proposal, both male and female, describe the idea of mandatory quotas as demeaning, discriminatory and a blatant attack on companies' right to self-determination. After weeks of speculation, the European Commission finally released EU legislation aimed at improving gender balance on company boards in Europe. Whist this version seems slightly more watered down with no specific mention of mandatory quotas, it still obliges Ireland to ensure that listed companies have 40% female board members by 2020.
There’s definitely a time and a place for a video released as an attempt by the EU Commission to get more girls into science. The time for “Science: It’s A Girl Thing” a 53-second cringe featuring overly-sexualised minors strutting around in safety goggles and minidresses , salivating over how bubbling flasks and chemical formulas always lead to neon make-up is never, and the place is nowhere. By Naomi Elster
As one blogger put it "The EU Commission may as well have put a lipstick on a string, and filmed 18 year old models doing a belly crawl after it from the nail parlour (or wherever they would normally be) to the lab bench." I’ve never seen a video so ill-received – a barrage of response videos have appeared on YouTube, and Twitter and Facebook are awash with criticisms, from both official sources, such as Ben Goldacre (author of Bad Science), Nature (the most prestigious science journal), and most of my friends – fiercely intelligent female scientists who I have studied and worked with and learnt from are rightfully angry. As one friend put it “It’s nice to know Marie Curie slowly irradiated herself to death so we could watch a bunch of fashion models play with molecular models while not wearing lab coats.” (Marie Curie was the scientist who discovered radiation, paving the way for a number of important developments including chemotherapy).