Media Depictions of Women in STEM Series

In the US, the Former Obama Administration's White House Council on Women and Girls and The Office of Science and Technology Policy released a fact sheet dealing with current problems relating to STEM depiction in the media, as well as strategies for solving them. Unfortunately, many of the characters that have been deemed less worthy of screen time are women who are working and succeeding in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics. The former administration sought to tackle this problem as a means to encourage future and current women and girls in STEM. This ongoing issue, and the former Adminstration's commitment to combatting this trend, inspired us here at WWEST to examine how fictional women in STEM are depicted in films and on television. Read on to see our takes below and view the White House fact sheet here.

Many of the characters that have been deemed less worthy of screen time are women who are working and succeeding in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics.  

How is the media doing 2 years after we first wrote about the representation of women? Spoiler alert: Not a lot better.

It’s Pride again in Vancouver which means it’s time for a special Pride edition of our Media Depictions of Women in STEM series. This month we aren’t talking about a woman, but instead a thirteen-year-old girl named Hazel Brownlee-Wellington from the book Hazel’s Theory of Evolution. 

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. 

The longer this pandemic goes on, the more times I rewatch the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). My latest rewatch was inspired by the hit show Wandavision which was recently released. The character of Darcy Lewis isn’t new to the MCU, but "Wandavision" definitely made me appreciate her more. 

February is Black History Month! For this installment of our Depictions of Women in STEM series, we're focusing on a Black woman who paved the way for Black women's portrayal in science fiction: Nichelle Nichols. Published in 1995, Saturn’s Child is Nichelle Nichols’ debut novel, written with Margaret Wander Bonanno. The name Nichelle Nichols may ring a bell, as the actor who portrayed Nyota Uhura in Star Trek: the Original Series. 

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is a show that centers on Zoey Clarke, a woman in STEM who can also hear people’s feelings through song. This can come in handy sometimes, especially when she hears her coworkers’ thoughts on her promotion. She is a valuable software engineer for the company. 

Vancouver is celebrating Pride this week and we wanted to profile another queer woman in STEM. Star Trek has many women in STEM, including Jett Reno from Star Trek: Discovery, portrayed by Tig Notaro.

With so much free time on my hands lately, I rewatched the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and as I did I found myself paying more attention to the women in STEM. Dr. Jane Foster was particularly interesting because she has a different career in both the comics and the movies, and she seems to be used as a plot device in both.

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.

To celebrate Black History month, we are bringing you another woman of colour for our media depictions post this month. Decades after Nichelle Nichols played Uhura on the original Star Trek series, Star Trek Discovery came to our television screens and brought us a woman of colour as the lead. Michael Burnam started as a xenoanthropologist before becoming a science specialist on the U.S.S. Discovery.

This time we're looking at math whiz Stacey McGill of the popular teen book series "The Baby-Sitters' Club."

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. 

Ms. Frizzle, the loveable, often called "whacky" science teacher, has been a source of knowledge and entertainment for kids (and adults) since The Magic School Bus book series was first published in 1986.

After being a lovable science geek named Fred on the show Angel, Amy Acker returned to the “Whedonverse” in Dollhouse as medical doctor, Dr. Claire Saunders.

For our 2019 special pride edition of our Depictions of Women in STEM in the Media series, we look at the representation of a trans character in STEM, Nomi Marks, of "Sense8."

This month for our Depictions of Women in STEM blog post we’re doing something a little different and profiling two women from an animated movie.  Two of these women are Honey Lemon and Go Go Tomago from Big Hero 6.

When Black Panther came out in early 2018 the world was introduced to Princess Shuri, portrayed by Letitia Wright, a spunky and sarcastic 16-year old who also happens to be a brilliant tech inventor.

To close off Women’s History Month in Canada we’re doing a special edition of the Media Depictions of Women in STEM series, depicting a woman in science from a classic movie.

It’s hard to believe that Jurassic Park came out 25 years ago. In honour of that, this month’s Media Depictions post is profiling feminist icon, Dr. Ellie Sattler.  

This month we’re profiling the teenage hacker turned powerful witch from the cult classic Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Willow Rosenberg. Willow inspired LGBT youth and “nerdy girls” everywhere with her intelligence, awkward charm, and realistic love stories.

The subject of this month’s depictions of women in STEM, is Dr. Temperance Brennan. She has been influential to women going into forensic careers and often appears on lists of the top women in STEM on television along with the other outstanding women of the show.

This time, we examine toxic masculinity in technology and how Nanette Cole in "Black Mirror's" episode "USS Callister" navigates it.

In this Depictions of Women in STEM post, we profile and compare hacker extraordinaire and former CEO of Palmer Technologies, Felicity Smoak and the brilliant, and occasionally villainous Dr. Caitlin Snow

This time, we look at how a woman scientist is depicted in the 1950s B-movie The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms.

In this special pride installment of the "Depictions of Women in STEM series" we profile Cosima Niehaus from the show "Orphan Black" and discuss how not only is she portayed as a woman in STEM but also as a member of the LGBT community in STEM.

In this installment of the "Depictions of Women in STEM series," we profile Dr. Ryan Stone from the movie Gravity and discuss how she is one of the most positive representations of a woman in STEM on screen.


In this installment, we examine the depiction of a recurring character on "The Big Bang Theory." Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler (portrayed by Mayim Bialik) was not introduced into the series until well into season three.

In this installment of our "Depictions of Women in STEM" series, we focus on Patty Tolan of the 2016 film Ghostbusters.

Portrayed by Gillian Anderson, a self-proclaimed feminist in her own right, Agent Dana Scully of "The X-Files" became an iconic fictional woman in STEM who has inspired people of all genders worldwide.

In this next installment of our series on depictions of women in STEM, we examine Kaywinnet Lee (Kaylee) Frye of the short-lived TV show "Firefly," portrayed by Jewel Staite.

This first installment of our series focuses on Nyota Uhura from "Star Trek: The Original Series," and Nichelle Nichols, the woman who brought her to life on the screen.