Any top ten list of affronts to women in science in 2012 would have to include the European Commission's tone deaf video effort purporting to encourage girls to enter science. The video that presented fashion models in a misguided marketing effort raised more than hackles and protest -- it stimulated a series of responses from women scientists and girls interested in science, which continue to stir the blogosphere. The cumulative impact of the marketing campaign gone awry reminds me of Neils Bohr's definition of a profound truth as one whose opposite is also a profound truth. An exclusionary presentation of women as fashion models pretending to be scientists has inspired a democratic outpouring of women scientists showing how much fun and accessible their work really is.
My favorite among these is this contest entry to the European Gender Summit meeting last month, commissioned by the European Science Foundation. I also recommend the Science Grrl website and Calendar and this video entry from Dartmouth graduate women.
How can we inspire more young women to enter science? We must change the perception that science is done by old white guys by showing girls more role models (not fashion models!). Videos are good, but so is in-person, as is done by women at my engineering school. The fields of astronomy and physics would be well served by promoting and rewarding such efforts. To all of you engaged in this work, thank you.