The Media: Women in STEM

Two shows that come to mind that female scientist stereotypes are both reinforced and challenged. In the TV show “Big Bang Theory” currently there are two female scientists that reinforced typical stereotypes. Both women are white and are in the life science fields (often called the soft sciences) while their love interests are scientist in the physical sciences (hard sciences) who have achieved great recognition and accolades career wise, the women are portrayed plugging away in their respective labs with little recognition.

One character named Amy is a Neurobiologist who is portrayed as someone who never before had a “real” boyfriend. Her current paramour is a narcissistic man-child who loves trains and video games but is a world-renowned physicist who video chats with Stephen Hawkins. Her character reinforces one of the main stereotypes of the frumpy unattractive 576nerdy girl who has chosen science as a career and is willing to settle for a less than suitable mate out of desperation.

The other Character is Bernadette, who is cute tiny but extremely bossy scientist specializing in Pharmaceuticals development. She is brash and sometimes unfiltered and nags and bosses her husband around, although she has a high pitched squeaky voice she radiates masculine energy pretty much scaring everyone around her. The scientific work of either women is never shown to be important or groundbreaking, just merely mentioned as a side joke or used for a gag for the show.

In another show called “Lucifer” currently there is a character who challenges typical stereo is named Ella Lopez who is a smart, attractive and tough Latina forensic scientist. Although a supporting character, her character is growing in presence because she continues to surprise the entire cast with a very complex and realistic portrayal of a scientist that is both cool, street smart, thoroughly knowledgeable about popular culture and multiple fielucifer-sdcc-ellalds of sciences other than just Forensics Science which makes her such an asset to the police department. She is logical but is also spiritual and willing to accept the things she cannot explain based on faith. In this way, she is more realistic since so many scientists are devout while being faithful to scientific methodology.

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3 thoughts on “The Media: Women in STEM

  1. I do think that the Big Bang Theory TV show has not done much to encourage women in STEM. It is disappointing since it is continuously such a hugely popular TV show. I haven’t heard of the TV show, Lucifer, though! I’m definitely going to look that up.

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  2. Big Bang Theory is not a show I have watched myself aside from random clips, but even from the random clips I agree, Big Bang Theory does not emphasize on the achievements of the women in science, and simply use them as the butt of a joke. Possible change the director can make is introducing a new women character, or simply allowing more character development on the female characters (in terms of their fields or knowledge of STEM categories). I also have never even hear of Lucifer, which is kinda saddening, as it seems to be a very powerful show, and I am sure there are other people like me, but I hope to look into it.

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  3. Before going to college, I was kind of misled by portraits of Big Bang Theory. I thought that would be the scientific field. However, people are different in real scientific field. There is no need to assume that women in STEM must be this way or that way. As a girl who want to pursue career in STEM in the future, I really believe that women can do everything as man do as long as they have the capacities. However, we have to admit that there are much more man in hard/soft science fields than women. Still, for TV or other media, it’s better to spread the real facts instead of stereotypes so that audience especially children/teenagers/students will not be discouraged by some “sad stories”.

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