A new government of Canada campaign used selfies and kittens and fashion to entice young girls to pursue jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Science minister Kirsty Duncan launched the effort, called Choose Science, on Feb. 11 to mark the International Day for Women andGirls in Science. In addition to social media campaign, it includes a slick website, with resources for parents, educators and girls to help address the persistent gap of women in the STEM fields.
Which sounds innocuous enough, until you notice the page for girls uses pictures of kittens to say science is about caring, and it points out how more traditionally female pursuits like photography, fashion and gymnastics encompass principles of math and physics. It also proclaims, “A career in STEM doesn’t mean spending your life in science class.”
The suggestion that girls would only be enticed into the fields of science and technology by showing their softer side has since prompted fierce backlash.
“This perpetuates negative stereotypes – we need you stand up and say that science class *is* interesting and it *is* for girls,” Lindsay LeBlanc, a physicist at the University of Alberta, responded to Duncan’s tweet announcing the campaign.
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