And now for something completely different – the “What I See” Project.

Back in July, I received an email from a lovely woman named Jaclyn, asking me to take part in a campaign called the “What I See” Project. According to the press release, WISP, as we shall call it from now on, is ‘a global online platform that recognizes and amplifies women’s voices. Through each person’s unique and honest answer to the universal question “what do you see when you look in the mirror?”, women from all over the world can be empowered by relating to each other’s words.’ For the launch of the campaign, Jaclyn aimed to get 100 bloggers, including me, and 18 uber-successful ambassadors to talk about how they see themselves, in the hope of inspiring many more women to do the same. My first thought was ‘Empowered? Seriously? Are we successful businesswomen here, or are we the Spice Girls?’. My second was ‘Well this sounds like a very nice idea, and I’ll definitely do it because she’s promised that it will bring some more traffic to my blog, but I don’t see how a big group hug is going to help women overcome life’s prejudices’.

Now, I understand that making the above paragraph public is tantamount to admitting that what I see when I look in the mirror is a cynical, sarcastic cow – which probably isn’t too far from the truth – but bear with me, reader.

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Here come the girls (and other sickeningly cliched expressions)

Three model-esque girls in high heels and short skirts strut towards a male scientist in a lab coat. Looking up from his microscope, his chiselled jaw drops as the girls strike a pose in front of him. Rather than the opening of a blue movie, this is the beginning of a horribly misguided advert aiming to tempt girls to pursue science. It gets worse. Shots of bubbling liquid in beakers are cut with make up brushes and nail varnishes. ‘Come on girls!’ the ad cajoules us ‘You CAN do science! Look, it’s a bit like make up!’ This patronizing piece of sexism was taken down within 12 hours of the campaign launch, although naturally it lives on through the power of Youtube. But why didn’t the campaign leaders think to use some of the amazing women working in science today? Jane Goodall, chimpanzee whisperer, for example, or the less well known but equally cool Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard whose studies of fruit flies with genetic mutations provided huge insights into how an embryo develops, and won her a Nobel prize in 1995.

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