STEM is very important to me. As a woman with a degree in a STEM field, working (in STEM) as a researcher, it's VERY important to me, to say the least. I've always admired STEM women, before I even knew what STEM was. By the way...STEM stands for Science/Technology/Engineering/Mathematics, fields where women are typically underrepresented. That lack of representation is why it's so important for women in STEM to be at the forefront.
Representation for women in STEM is of upmost importance. Aleks Krotoski poses this question in an article for the Guardian: Technology companies build products that help us make sense of the world- How can they do this without input from 52% of the world's population? She goes on to state that "in 2005, women made up 24% of computer science students. By 2010, that figure had dropped to 19%, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency. A 2012 report from Creative Skillset found that only 29% of the interactive media industry in the UK is female, and the majority hold positions in art and design and communications rather than engineering."
AAUW's data in their research reports Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (2010) and Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women’s Success in Engineering and Computing (2015) reflect these sentiments. In America, "more than ever before, girls are studying and excelling in science and mathematics. Yet the dramatic increase in girls’ educational achievements in scientific and mathematical subjects has not been matched by similar increases in the representation of women working as engineers and computing professionals. Just 12 percent of engineers are women, and the number of women in computing has fallen from 35 percent in 1990 to just 26 percent today.
The numbers are especially low for Hispanic, African American, and American Indian women. Black women make up 1 percent of the engineering workforce and 3 percent of the computing workforce, while Hispanic women hold just 1 percent of jobs in each field. American Indian and Alaska Native women make up just a fraction of a percent of each workforce."
As tomorrow is International Women's Day, and after seeing Black Panther again, for the third time, I've decided to release this week's #WCW highlighting my FAVORITE Fictional Women in STEM.
Shuri, Princess of Wakanda, The Black Panther (Movie)
Shuri is a princess of the fictional African kingdom of Wakanda. Shuri is a technical genius; she designs the special armored outfits and gadgets for her brother to use. She also fights alongside the Dora Milaje, the female warriors who protect the King, in defense of Wakanda and her brother, the Black Panther. Her technological innovations rival that of Tony Stark and Q (of James Bond fame). She is such a phenomenal character! [Actually, all of the women in the film are STELLAR. They're all of my most favorite parts!]
Dr. Ellie Sattler, Jurassic Park
It's important to me that you know this; Dr.Ellie Sattler is the most important character in Jurassic Park. She is my earliest #WCW; I can vividly remember seeing this movie as a very young child when it came out, and instantly wanting to BE HER. Dr. Sattler is a paleobotanist, who, along with my first crush, Dr. Grant, saves the characters from an island of genetically grown (by-mosquito and-frog DNA) Dinosaurs. She doesn't sit back and let the men rescue the day, she does it herself. She's an integral part of why the characters survive to tell the tale.
Cosima is one of the clones masterfully played by Tatiana Maslany, and the brains behind finding and interpreting the science behind their genetic makeup. She was once a PhD student in Experimental Evolutionary Developmental Biology, but dropped out of school to study the female clones' biology. Despite congenital respiratory illness (that has killed other clones) still threatening her life, Cosima continues to fight for truth and justice with her clone sisters. She is one of my all-time favorites!!
Amy is the incredibly smart Neurobiologist is the only one who can keep up with Sheldon Cooper. She is probably my favorite character on the show. She is hilarious, loyal, loving, and tenacious. She is a wonderful best friend to Penny and never sacrifices her intellect or standing up for what she believes in.
Another one of my first #WCW! Scully is an FBI agent and a medical doctor. She is brilliant! Scully has a Bachelor of Science degree in physics (her undergraduate thesis was titled Einstein's Twin Paradox: A New Interpretation). While in medical school at Stanford University, she was recruited by the FBI, and accepts their offer. She is the brains of the operation in so many ways. But she is also courageous, brave, fierce, and resilient.
Angela Montenegro is a specialist in forensic facial reconstruction at the Jeffersonian Institution. She uses her skills as an artist to develop, maintain, and improve the lab’s three-dimensional graphics and computer simulation systems. She is credited with the innovation of the "Angelator", which is later recreated/replaced with a newer version, the "Angelatron".
Happy is mechanical engineer prodigy; she's part of the literal team of geniuses, called Scorpion. Happy's genius has saved the fictional world so many times; without her, the team would not be successful.
Dr. Maura Isles, Rizzoli & Isles
Dr. Isles is the Medical Examiner and the other half of Rizzoli & Isles. She has a warm, happy personality, who's extremely curious, interesting, and funny. She has a brilliant mind and devoted to her work and her best friend (Jane Rizzoli). The pair are a crime fighting team, showcasing women in leadership roles working together to save the world (or at least, their city). ;)
Doctor Jane Foster is one of the world's leading astrophysicists, the world's foremost astronomer, the creator of the Foster Theory, as well as one of the premiere experts on Asgard. She found Thor after he was banished from Asgard and fell to Earth while she and her team were in New Mexico studying astronomical anomalies. Need I say more?? She is literally my favorite part of Thor. (Sorry Chris Hemsworth!)
Dr. Jo Harding lost her family in a storm as a child, which inspired her to become a meteorologist that studied catastrophic weather activity. Her team, nicknamed ‘storm chasers’ develop a machine that tracks storms and records the activity,in hopes to increase the amount of advanced warning time and save lives. She continually puts herself in the harms way, even willing to give her own life, for the sake of science and helping to prevent the unnecessary loss of human life.
Dr. Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz, Big Bang Theory
Dr. Temperance Brennan, BonesBrennan is a forensic anthropologist, who investigates human remains at crime scenes where the flesh is too degraded for a coroner to obtain evidence. Nicknamed "Bones", she is the protagonist of the series and undergoes a lot of character development throughout the series, while still remaining true to herself and her love of science. Towards the end of the series, she has a daughter, and also showcases the struggles of being a working mom. She is the leading expert of forensic anthropology, and uses her incredible brain to help her partner fight crime.
Dr. Mindy Lahiri, The Mindy Project
One of my favorite (and humorous) portrayals is done by the lovely Mindy Kaling, of Dr. Lahiri, an OB/GYN in New York City. Mindy is bubbly, hilarious, and wickedly smart, trying to juggle her personal life with her professional life. She's romantic, honest, self-deprecating, and unapologetically herself. Kaling has stated that Dr. Mindy Lahiri is inspired by her own mother, which makes this even more wonderful!
Abbey Sciuto, NCIS
Penelope Garcia, Criminal Minds
So, here's to all the real life STEM women out there, working tirelessly in male-dominated fields. If you get tired of being "the token woman", remember what we are fighting for. And that, some day, our daughters and nieces will know a world where women are just as likely to hold jobs in STEM fields as men, and just as likely to be CEO's, Judges, Astronauts, Engineers, Mathematicians, Scientists, Technological Innovators...