Back in January I was in North Carolina to participate in the Borafest—that is, Science Online 2011. The main reason for going was a little project cooked up with Jenny Rohn and Karen James. To wit: we wanted to film some women scientists who might be just as capable as any man at presenting sciencey-type programmes: the next female David Attenborough, if you like.
Here, then, is the fruit of that project. A film (in two parts, because YouTube won’t let me upload more than 15 minutes at a time), with some very interesting and articulate characters:
The brave women in these videos are: Holly Bik; Sara Imari Walker (@ImariSara); Betul Kacar Arslan (@BetulKArslan); Olivia Koski; Pascale Lane (@PHLane); Karen Ventii and of course, Meg Lowman (@CanopyMeg). Enjoy!
I think you raise an important issue here. I do not believe women are simply not cut out to do science, nor that there is a big conspiracy by men to keep women from assuming leadership positions in the scientific world (or any other community, for that matter). Societal views on women is what still is working against us. Having no popular female scientific role models, is a major drawback. I very much like the idea of this video, however… I find the cinematographic quality insufficient. I am aware of the fact that this video is made by people that are not trained for this. If you would like to make some more video’s on this matter, I would advise a change of settings. The background noise is disturbing and that is a shame, since it is harder to hear what those women want to convey. Facing the camera a little more, would change the whole ‘feel’ of the video. Having them look in the camera while talking, would give the video a major boost. It would feel more intimate and their message would, as a result, be more compelling. I do not know if they’d had a chance to write and practice their speech, it doesn’t feel that way. Interviews are nice, but if you want to reach the audience and change their viewpoint, you need to seduce them. You have a very important message, here, and a great idea!
It’s not so much a matter of training to be honest. I was using a crappy little camcorder that really isn’t up to the task. As you know, video equipment costs money—which I don’t have. A decent mic alone (which would cut out background noise) would be 400 quid at least, and I was severely out of pocket just getting to North Carolina.
The whole project was conceived rather last-minute, too. I didn’t think a script was a good idea—I wanted to catch spontaneity and freshness. This was never intended to be an end in itself either, it was about showing what talent is available if you’d just pick up your camera and walk around.
Also, you should never look directly into the camera if you’re being interviewed. It’s spooky for the viewer. If these women were presenting a programme, well then it’d be different. The message itself wasn’t actually the thing we were trying to get across here, either—they could have been talking about paint drying rates for all we cared: we weren’t trying to change people’s minds about science; it was about the people.
Indeed, it is about the people. The message that I am hearing is: women are just as capable as men in science, but society is holding them back. One major issue is the absence of popular female role models in science. That is an important message and something I hadn’t thought about.
Video equipment is really expensive, that is true. I would like to see this idea brought to a higher level. Maybe you could cooperate with some students in film and video production?
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