Depictions of Women in STEM: Billie McEvoy

March 24, 2020

Written by: Alicen Ricard

Contains spoilers for Avenue 5.

This year HBO brought a delightful and slightly ridiculous space comedy to our screens called Avenue 5. This show about a “cruise ship” in space is all about the incompetent men of the ship and the powerful women who are actually the reason that the ship is still running. One of these women is Avenue 5’s second engineer, Billie McEvoy.

Source: HITC

After the first engineer dies right off the bat, Billie is in charge of making sure that the ship is running properly. Even more responsibility falls on her hands when she finds out the captain isn’t actually a captain and that she’s the only one on the ship who actually knows what she is doing. Not only does she now have to do her job and the job of engineer one, she also has to keep the ship flying since the captain is a sham. 

The problem is that no one listens to her and her work often goes unnoticed. She's also very straightforward and doesn't have much of a sense of humour, so she often goes unnoticed among the more over the top characters. The show is a comedy so the situations they get themselves into are rather ridiculous, but more often than not, she’s the one who saves the day. Billie’s work is underappreciated. Even though the captain isn’t a real captain, the passengers think he is. So because he is supposed to be the “man in charge”, he gets all the credit for the work of the women on the ship, especially Billie.  

Source: HITC

There is another engineer on the ship who always tries to make it seem like he knows more than Billie does. They both calculated how long it will take to get back to Earth and he is determined that he is right even though his numbers make no sense.

The thing that makes this show difficult to judge is that it’s very much a satire. It’s mocking stereotypes and highlighting that the women on the ship are very important and the reason everything keeps running in the first place.


The former Obama Administration's White House fact sheet lists 3 goals for fictional representation of women in STEM. We are noticing a trend in the movies and television shows we have reviewed - they meet some of the following goals better than others.

1.  Include diverse STEM role models (past and present): Half of the people in STEM fields on this show are women. There isn’t a lot, but out of the four main scientists and engineers on the show, two are women, and they’re both women of colour. The show does meet this goal.

2. Highlight the breadth of STEM careers and social impacts: There aren’t a lot of different STEM careers in the show. There are engineers, a retired astronaut, and a NASA scientist. The show somewhat meets this goal.

 3.  Debunk STEM stigmas and misconceptions: Everything in the show is kind of a stereotype due to it being a satire, so it fails this goal, but on purpose.

Who is your favourite woman in STEM in a comedy? Let us know at Twitter or Facebook.