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Did I Say Hairdressing? I Meant Astrophysics (1998)

Courtesy of Leeds Animation Workshop

Main image of Did I Say Hairdressing? I Meant Astrophysics (1998)
16mm, 14 min, colour
Production CompanyLeeds Animation Workshop
Team MemberJane Bradshaw
 Milena Dragic
 Janis Goodman
 Steph Munro
 Terry Wragg
EditorJoy Sisley
MusicAndy Wilson
NarratorAlan Bennett

Twins Joanne and Joseph struggle to escape the gender-defined roles in which their father, the respected scientist Zod, has cast them.

Show full synopsis

Designed as an educational tool, with support from institutions such as Women into Science and Engineering and the Engineering Employers Federation, this animation employs humorous metaphors and accessible arguments to illustrate the disadvantages women face in gaining employment in the fields of science and technology.

Twins Joanne and Joseph have an early advantage over their older sisters, as their physical likeness allows them to swap places - and genders - giving them access to lessons from both their mother and father. It is an advantage that Joanne will depend on, to pursue her career choice, when she is exiled from her father's laboratory for showing compassion by releasing a caged guinea pig.

The children of the story are raised by a mother who makes as little impression on her children's lives as she does in her kitchen where, despite her ministrations, she produces nothing of note. Equally ineffectual, it could be said, are the female bio-chemists that Joanne meets at Professor Yaga's laboratory who, despite out-numbering the men, have been relegated to night-time apparitions with no recognition of their talent or value. The children choose to follow in the footsteps of their father, who, although boorish and old-fashioned, is an eminently successful scientist with published works and a reputation as "cleverest in the land", and who makes his work sound secretive and interesting. Right up to the end of the film we see that Joanne continues to be inspired by her father, to whom she finally returns to seek his approval for her achievements.

Emma Hedditch

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
1. A great man of science (1:34)
2. Career frustrations (1:22)
Sudden Wrench, A (1982)
Bennett, Alan (1934-)
Leeds Animation Workshop (1976-)
Women and Film
Women's Animation
Women's Film and Video Collectives