Depictions of Women in STEM: Dr. Sharon Hayes

December 17, 2019

Written by Alicen Ricard

Spoilers for Two Turtle Doves

It's the time of year where I sit down and watch more Hallmark Christmas movies than I care to admit to. The last thing I expected was to find a movie I could use for this series, but then along came the movie Two Turtle Doves and Dr. Sharon Hayes, the protagonist of this film who is not only a woman in science but also didn't leave her job at the end of the movie. 

Source: Yahoo

Dr. Sharon Hayes is a neuroscientist who is waiting to hear if she’s going to receive a half-million-dollar fellowship. She had been working hard on her research and was counting on this money to elevate it. Thematically for this movie, her research is on grief. While she's waiting to hear if she won the fellowship or not she goes back to her hometown to deal with her grandmother’s estate. Her grandmother raised her and died recently.

Sharon’s grandmother was a therapist and inspired and encouraged her to go into STEM. She was inspired by the impact her grandmother had on her patients. 

Source: Hallmark

While Sharon deals with her own grief and grandmother’s estate she also falls in love with her grandmother’s next-door neighbour. It is a Hallmark Christmas movie after all. Like most of these movies, she decides not to sell her grandmother’s house after all and to move back there. 

However, the ”twist” is that she doesn’t leave her job at the end of the movie. She does decide to move away from the city, but she also knows it’s important to keep doing her work--which she loves doing. She does win the fellowship and decides to use the money to keep researching grief and to write a book on it using the stories of people in her home town.


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): There isn't a lot of people in STEM careers in this movie, but both of them are women, both with PhDs in Psychology. Both of these women are also white. This movie moderately meets this goal.

2. Highlight the breadth of STEM careers and social impacts: The only field in this movie is psychology but both the women use psychology to help and inspire others, so this film somewhat meets the goal.

3.  Debunk STEM stigmas and misconceptions: Honestly, the film doesn't really deal with this much. The other characters do take her seriously and call her Dr. Sharon. So this film does meet the goal. 

Are there any women in STEM careers in holiday movies you enjoy?