When EDF Energy launched its abominably-named Pretty Curious campaign to get more girls into science and tech, the world rolled its eyes. But apparently being condescending to an entire gender wasn’t enough, and EDF have now outdone themselves by handing the top prize in their Pretty Curious competition to… a boy.
According to the BBC, the competition “was later opened up to all 11 to 16-year-olds,” which allowed a boy to triumph in an initiative literally designed to stop male humans winning all the prizes all the time.
To be clear, this isn’t Josh’s fault. He was allowed to enter the competition and his invention was clearly a good one. But EDF need to have a serious word with their PR team, and perhaps learn some lessons from IBM’s disastrous #HackAHairdryer campaign.
In addition to allowing boys to enter what was conceived and marketed as a competition for girls, EDF further messed up by making it a voting competition. What do we know about society? That given the choice of male or female candidates in STEM, the males will be favoured again and again and again. They shouldn’t have been given the opportunity.
There were five ideas shortlisted by the judges, including a sleep monitor by a child called Anna that would help people get more effective rest, and a fridge gadget designed by Maegan to help prevent food waste. But the winner was Joshua’s gaming controller, which powered itself with kinetic energy.
EDF is still gleefully retweeting news stories about them “inspiring the next generation of female engineers,” while defensively replying to criticism with things like this:
Yes, there were female students involved in shortlisting. They were given a set of entries and told to judge the best one. The mistake isn’t with them, it’s with launching a campaign and a competition for girls and then kowtowing to “but science has no gender, the best idea should win” whining from the same kinds of people who’ve been vandalising slogans at Facebook. In other words, people who won’t let marginalised groups have any kind of help or assistance because it’s not faaaair, even though our society has never once been fair to them.
We can only imagine Josh feels awful right now, for something that is not one iota his fault. As ever, it’s a big company trying to garner positive PR by pretending to care about diversity in tech, and only succeeding in proving they’re part of the problem.
Main image: EDF Energy