Depictions of Women in STEM: Dr. Dottie King

June 25, 2021

Written by: Alicen Ricard

This post contains spoilers for "Né Łe!" by Darcie Little Badger.

This month we’re doing something a little different for a media depictions of women in STEM post. For Indigenous History Month I read Love Beyond Body, Space & Time, which is an Indigenous LGBT speculative fiction anthology. One story featured a woman who was a veterinarian, so this month we’re featuring her. 

In “Né Łe!” by Darcie Little Badger, Dr. Dottie King is a veterinarian who is on a ship going to Mars. When they checked her into her flight they questioned her legitimacy, which seems to be pretty common for women in STEM careers, even in the future, but she is eventually let on board. Normally they put the occupants into a deep sleep on the trip there, which is very long. However they woke Dottie up because there were some dogs on board that needed tending to. With still about five months to go to Mars, the puppy statis pods malfunctioned, causing the ship to run out of space and upset the dogs.

When Dottie wakes up, there is a woman named Cora, who works on the ship there. She is eager to get Dottie to help them with the dogs. Dottie is able to figure out that one of the dogs is having a seizure and save him. The dog was supposed to be sold but the owner no longer wanted him because he was damaged goods. Cora ends up being the one to take the dog so that he has a good home, which Dottie is glad about. 

When Dottie stays on the ship the two women end up starting a romance. Both women are Native and had an instant connection. Dottie never grew up on a reservation but she still cares about her heritage. At one point she says, "I'm descended from people who fought or fled invasion," which shows how resilient she is. It was nice to see Dottie move on and start another romance - she broke up with her previous partner because there just wasn't any work where she was going. This shows that even in the future and in fiction, women in STEM have trouble getting jobs. The story has a happy ending, as Dottie seems really hopeful about her new relationship and about her future. 


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): Dottie is the only person in STEM thast they really show, but there has to be others since they are on a space ship. However, since they only show one, this does not meet the goal. 

2. Highlight the breadth of STEM careers and social impacts: They do show how important Dottie's career is. She saves animals. This short story meets the goal. 

3.  Debunk STEM stigmas and misconceptions: The story doesn't really tackle debunking misconceptions at all but it does show how cool being a vet can be so it does meet this goal.