Often found far and between workplaces, women have made considerable achievements in STEM. From Katherine Johnson to Marie Curie, there’s enormous backing for the fact that women can do anything they put their minds to. Over the decades, media representation of women in STEM in movies and TV has increased remarkably, but there’s still scope for more.
Historically, STEM subjects have not been pitched to as many women as men, and in orthodox culture, women were not encouraged to pursue STEM careers as much as their male representatives. There is scientific proof that women are more likely to pursue careers as demonstrated in the movies and TV shows they watch, a critical fact to be taken into consideration for modern TV scriptwriters and producers.
‘The Big Bang Theory’
The first few seasons of The Big Bang Theory were laced with sexist jokes and the entire plot revolved around four high-IQ male scientists, and their streetsmart female neighbor. The later seasons, however, featured Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik), a neurobiologist every bit as brilliant as protagonist Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons). Some fan theories even suggest that Amy was smarter than Sheldon.
The cherry on the cake was that Amy was played by Mayim Bialik, an actress with a Ph.D. in neuroscience. Her character is still beloved and continues to inspire millions of women.
American Sci-Fi Drama series, The X-Files has become an iconic television series throughout the world. One of the most prominent characters in the show, Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), is considered to be one of the most inspirational fictional women on television, inspiring women to pursue careers in STEM. The impact of her inspiration was so huge that it came to be known as “The Scully Effect.” This classic revolves around X-Files: marginalized, unsolved cases involving paranormal phenomena, allowing detective Scully to utilize her expertise.
While the show got canceled after 9 seasons due to numerous reasons, it continues to empower women across the world.
‘Halt and Catch Fire’
Albeit still under the radar, Halt and Catch Fire is one of the most incredible TV series. Featuring Cameron Howe (Mackenzie Davisand Donna Clark (Kerry Bishé), the story is set in the 1980s and ’90s, during the personal computing revolution and development of the World Wide Web. Cameron is a programming genius and a video game designer, while Donna is a computer engineer plus businesswoman. The women collaborate on a groundbreaking software that acts as a platform for online gaming, shopping, and a social network, all combined into one.
Although the women often encounter criticism and sexism in the tech industry, they refuse to give up on their dreams, thus proving to be an inspiration for numerous women who wish to pursue careers in STEM.
In this Silicon Valley drama, Zoey Clarke (Jane Levy) obtains the ability to hear other people’s innermost thoughts as popular songs after an MRI incident. She is a programmer and engineering manager at a tech firm that develops smartphones and applications. In one of the episodes, Zoey is found listening to her Black co-worker Simon (John Clarence Stewart) as he dishes out his feelings about the company’s lack of racial diversity, a budding real-world problem in the tech industry.
While comical and very fictitious, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist presents real-world problems and Zoey’s passion for her profession motivates women to pursue a career in STEM.
Featuring Nomi Marks (Jamie Clayton), Sense8 is a story that has inspired thousands of people around the world. Nomi is one of the senates, eight people born on the same day who are mentally and physically linked to each other. She’s a professional hacker and political blogger. Nomi calls herself a hacktivist. While much detail into what she does has not been provided on the show, there is no doubt that she is incredible at hacking.
Portrayed by Clayton, Nomi is a trans lesbian in STEM: what makes her impact even more profound on the audience is her representation by Jamie, a trans woman herself.
The producers of Bones took numerous risks with their plots and cast members, reaching for places other shows were afraid to go. One of the two protagonists on the show was Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel). She has three doctorates in anthropology, forensic anthropology, and kinesiology and is the lead forensic anthropologist at the Medico-Legal Lab of the Jeffersonian Institute (a fictitious version of the Smithsonian Institute). Furthermore, the forensic anthropologist is also a best-selling novelist. Bones is based on the real-life forensic anthropologist, Kathy Reichs.
In addition to the Scully Effect, Bones had her own effect known as the Jeffersonian Effect, which left countless women inspired to pursue a career in STEM.
Orphan Black revolves around a human cloning experiment where Tatiana Maslany plays several clones who discover one another’s existence and collaborate together to understand their origins. The lead scientist on the case is Cosima, and her girlfriend and fellow scientist, Delphine (Evelyne Brochu). Working with Cosima’s “sisters” (or sestras), they reveal an operation much more surreptitious than any of them ever imagined.
While the thriller keeps you hooked to the seat for numerous reasons, its characterization and the portrayals of its excellent cast proffers play an important role in its success.
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