Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2311

Tacky recruitment ad is an insult to women

The European Commission has produced a video telling us that science is “a girl thing”. After watching it, I’m left puzzled as to what exactly they’re trying to achieve.

It consists largely of close up shots of lipstick, blusher and eyeshadow, interspersed with bubbling flasks, test tubes and women in short skirts on a bright pink background. The first thing that comes to mind is a poor attempt to advertise make-up.

The Commission seems to assume that women are more interested in so called beauty products than anything else in the world—and that suggesting, vaguely, that these may have something to do with chemistry will make more women want to pursue careers in science.

I can assure the commissioners that make-up played no role whatsoever in the decision to become a scientist, for me or for any of the women I know.

Attempts to encourage more women to become scientists should be welcomed. But instead of relying on sexist imagery couldn’t the Commission have highlighted the often overlooked discoveries that women scientists have made?

Marie Curie’s work on radiation, Rosalind Franklin’s contributions to discovering the structure of DNA and Jocelyn Bell Burnell’s discovery of pulsating neutron stars are a few that spring to mind.

It could have showcased some of the exciting research that women scientists are engaged in today—from understanding the Earth’s core to discovering the Higgs boson, from understanding heart disease to researching changes to our climate.

Instead of wasting money on this derogatory video the Commission could have helped tackle the problems that affect women in science, such as lack of decent childcare and the lack of funding that affects all scientists.

Amy Gilligan, Cambridge

Cuts make us poorer

I loved your paper about Crooked Cameron’s Class War. Since being forced into early retirement I am a volunteer advisor. I often see the problems people face trying to survive on low incomes.

Many of those on housing benefit and income support are employed on low wages and unable to get enough hours.

Making the poor poorer doesn’t help workers. It only suits the Tories and their fat cat friends.

It was also great to see the paper standing up to attempts to blame immigrants—unlike Ed Miliband!

Sean Leahy, Coventry

Atos makes me anxious

I’ve been on Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for three and a half years. In that time I’ve had two medical assessments and filled in forms three times.

I used to work as a hospital cleaner. It was hard work, but I got used to it and made lots of friends. I couldn’t go back to work after I lost my only child in a car crash a week after her 20th birthday.

I developed rheumatoid arthritis, which I believe was caused by the shock and grief, and I suffer from anxiety and depression.

Now I have another medical coming up next week with Atos. I’m nervous, because I know these medicals are designed to get as many people off DLA as possible. My anxiety is worse and I’m finding it difficult to sleep properly.

Maria Coughlin, by email

Law won’t stop courts protecting the wealthy

Libel laws have always been used to prevent the corruption at the top being exposed. The media mogul and Mirror pensions robber Robert Maxwell used to issue writs like confetti at the first sniff of criticism of his crooked empire.

He knew the astronomical court costs would prevent the truth being pursued. The laws have certainly been used to threaten to gag Socialist Worker.

A new defamation bill claims to be about stopping corporations and the rich using the law to defend their power and privilege.

But as scientist Brian Cox and other campaigners say, it fails to include a public interest defence. It will be powerless to stop the law being used to stifle open, evidence-based debate.

With the establishment in crisis after the Murdoch scandal, unions should campaign for a law which allows open debate on the issues that affect our lives.

Phil Turner, Rotherham

Betrayed by Durham’s Labour council

I moved back to the north east after I was made redundant in London. It’s grim!

The situation here is dire. I have sent out over 300 CVs. I learned that I was “overqualified” to stack shelves, unless it’s for unpaid workfare.

The staff at my local library are brilliant. They help with CVs and advice—and they make a lovely cuppa. In short they are a community lifeline at a time of high unemployment.

To my horror the Labour council have decided to cut the library opening hours in half. I need this service to apply for jobs. This is madness.

It gets worse for the staff there, who were promised a pay rise only to have it withdrawn. Kick your staff when they’re down why don’t you? My sadness at seeing this council making cuts is massive.

In the Thatcher years this council built the leisure centres it’s now closing. It even made food parcels for miners during their great strike.

Now it closes services but spends hundreds of thousands on consultants. It’s shameful and pathetic. They should run a no cuts budget.

Graham Eddy, Durham

Solidarity gets results

I got on the bus on Monday morning last week and found my Oyster card was out of credit. I tried to pay with a £10 note but the driver had no change.

But when I explained that I supported their strike, he let me on for free! A little solidarity goes a long way.

Amin Osman, south London

No progress in Afghanistan

The lie that the Nato occupation helps women has been revived by Amnesty International’s slogan “Nato: Keep the progress going!”

Afghanistan is now the most dangerous place in the world to be a woman. Nato bombs destroy homes and livelihoods. Every 30 minutes a woman dies in childbirth.

US puppet Karzai and his government condone violence against women. Progress, what progress?

Sarah Cox, north west London

Get rid of royal leeches

While the Tories tell us to tighten our belts, we’re having to spend more on the royals. We paid £50,000 on a holiday for “Wills and Kate” and £400,000 on flights for Prince Andrew. It’s about time we got rid of these parasites!

Dexter Hill, Sheffield

Bumper profit for workfare

It’s a disgrace that Poundland can announce a 27 percent rise in profits to £40.1 million. It steals thousands of pounds of wages from the forced labour of jobseekers on workfare schemes.

Mark Dunk, south east London

Could Europe help workers?

The island of Saipan is an “export processing zone”—part of the US where US laws protecting workers don’t apply. In Britain the coalition opted out of European protections for workers. Are they trying to be the Saipan of Europe?

Allan-Stuart J McLeod, Middlesbrough

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Article information

Tue 10 Jul 2012, 18:01 BST
Issue No. 2311
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