In order to achieve full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls, and further achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, the United Nations General Assembly declared 11 February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science in 2015.
This fact is especially noteworthy if we take into account data such as the following referring to both fiction and everyday life. In the first case, the article “Science on Television in the 21st Century”, by Anthony Dudo et al. (2010), has shown that only 1% of the occupations of the 2,868 prime-time characters analyzed are scientists; and of this total, 71% are men; Eva Flicker, in her study, acknowledges that only one fifth of the scientific characters she has analyzed in films are women. In the real world, David Beede et al. (2009), for example, have shown that only 24% of American women work in fields related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. To cite one example, the American documentary program “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey”, dedicated to science and winner of prestigious awards, has been criticized for the virtual absence of women scientists.
That’s why today from Optiva Media we want to highlight about a selection of women scientists in films and series, because it is really important to have references (real or fictional) in the media to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls so let’s meet them!
Film and serial woman scientists
Strong, determined, often misunderstood women but scientific over all. Also full of uncertainties and always with a feminine vision of their work. Novels and popular science works have brought women scientists to the general public, but it has been the cinema and television series that have done the most to disseminate their careers or a way of developing a vocation beyond the gender biases that still weigh on science. Here is a selection of women scientists in films, all fictional although some are more or less freely inspired by real characters.
1- Diane Fossey | Gorillas in the Mist
Diane Fossey was a real character, an expert zoologist who in the sixties broke one of the myths rooted in society, that gorillas were very dangerous for humans. Her indomitable character and the task she undertook, going almost alone into the mountains of Uganda to investigate these animals, made her a reference of the time. Her book Gorillas in the Mist, based on her experience, was a success and was later made into a film, three years after her still unsolved murder. He had made many enemies in the gorilla hunting business. The film that bore the same title starred Sigourney Weaver, and was released in 1988. You can watch it on Filmin.
2- Lily | Devs
The sci-fi series directed by Alex Garland stars a computer engineer, Lily, played by actress Sonoya Mizuno, who is anxious to discover what is behind the disappearance of her boyfriend. The company where they work promises scientific advances only imagined, and the plot advances through the chapters raising ethical questions and possibilities of alternative realities, debates about free will and the limits of research from the physics side. You can watch it on HBO.
3- Amy Farrah Fowler and Bernadette Rostenkowski | The Big Bang Theory
Despite the relevance in the series of such emblematic characters as Sheldon Cooper, it is impossible to ignore the importance of the female presence in the series. Moreover, if there is a truly original aspect to highlight regarding the presence of women in the series, it is the role assigned as scientists to those who appear as main characters from the third season onwards: the microbiologist Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz and the neuroscientist Amy Farrah Fowler (there are others too, but secondary). In this sense, we cannot deny that The Big Bang Theory is helping to spread the image of women in a field that used to be considered almost exclusively masculine. You can watch it on Orange TV.
4- Sarah | Proxima
About NASA, but more focused on motherhood and the resignations due to problems of conciliation faced by women who are mothers, is this film by French filmmaker Alice Winetour. The protagonist of ‘Proxima’ is an astronaut selected to participate in a mission in which she faces, in addition to the pure professional challenge, the distrust towards her abilities of her colleagues, mostly men, and must face her emotional contradictions between the happiness that gives her to be with her daughter and the satisfaction of the career of her dreams. It is on Filmin.
5- Marie Curie | Radioactive
The film Radioactive shows us the life of one of the most famous women scientists of the world, Marie Curie. A pioneer, rebel and genius. The film is an incredible, true story of Marie Sklodowska-Curie and her Nobel Prize-winning work that changed the world forever. As she discovers previously unknown radioactive elements, it soon becomes terrifyingly evident that her work could lead to applications in medicine that could save thousands of lives, or applications in warfare that could destroy them by the millions. You can watch it on Movistar+
6- Abby Sciuto | NCIS
Abigail “Abby” Beethoven Sciuto is a fictional character from the NCIS series on CBS Television. Her character Abigail is a forensic scientist at the Naval Criminal Investigative Service headquarters at the Washington Navy Yard, with expertise in ballistics, digital forensics, and DNA analysis. Her gothic style of dress and her interest in death and the supernatural contrast with her generally hyperactive demeanor and enthusiasm about her work. She graduated with full honors from Louisiana State University with a triple major in sociology, criminology, and psychology. Also, she earned her master’s degree from Georgia State University in criminology and forensic science. You can watch the NCIS serie on Atresplayer.
7- Lisa Simpsons | The Simpsons
Lisa Simpson shows us the much-needed image of an intellectual and artistic girl who loves science and mathematics. She is not already a scientist, but probably she will be, so we can not finish this list without her. Lisa is the intelligent girl who has been able to cultivate her knowledge through books and a girl who knows about science and art. Since “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy” when she fight againts sexim of a Malibu Stacy doll, from “Girls Just Want to Have Sums” when Lisa disguises as a boy to infiltrate the boy math class to demostrate that women are as good as men in maths, this character is a constant fight for feminist and smart girls. You can watch The Simpsons on Vodafone TV, FOX NOW.