5 Inspirational Female Characters in STEM

December 21, 2018

Gillian Anderson at the World Premiere of “The X-Files: I Want To Believe”. Image by Popular Images.

So here’s the thing, lots of girls show interest in pursuing careers in STEM, but despite this fact, the vast majority of those jobs are still done by men. Not okay! For those of you new to this acronym, STEM refers to careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. And why shouldn’t women make up half (or MORE!) of the people occupying those careers? If you’re considering a career in STEM, here are five awesome women from TV and film with careers in STEM to inspire you!

Dana Scully from The X-files

We’re kicking things off with FBI agent Dana Scully, a medical doctor with a dry sense of humour and an undergrad in physics. Not only does she approach paranormal cases with a scientific mindset, but she also performs autopsies and tackles escaping perps on a regular basis. She presents herself in a calm and confident manner, and her authority is never questioned by the other (predominantly male) characters in the show.

It’s also worth mentioning Scully was one of the first female medical doctors on TV back when the representation of women in STEM was frightfully slim, so it’s no surprise many women with jobs in STEM today have named her as one of their inspirations. This phenomenon is known as “The Scully Effect,” and it goes to show representation really does matter!

Mindy Lahiri from The Mindy Project 

Mindy is bubbly, hilarious, and great at her job as an OB/GYN. She attended Princeton and Columbia before becoming a partner at Shulman & Associates, and her dedication to her job is integral to the show. Part of what makes Mindy such a fun character to watch is that she has so much self confidence that it’s infectious! Mindy loves the way she looks, and she knows she’s smart, independent and can tackle whatever life throws at her.

Rachel Chu from Crazy Rich Asians

Rachel studied at Stanford and teaches economics at NYU, specializing in game theory. She’s intelligent, witty, and incredibly strong-willed. Although Rachel’s job isn’t the focus of the film, it’s made clear her job’s a very important part of her life. At one point she even uses game theory to take control of a difficult situation that’s been plaguing her. It’s pretty clever!

Nine Ball from Ocean’s 8

Nine Ball is a laid-back hacker who joins a team of women planning a jewelry heist. From the moment she’s introduced, it’s pretty clear Nine Ball’s going to be one of the coolest members of the team, as she passes her interview by effortlessly hacking the system of the building she’s being interviewed in (without being asked to do so). Although she doesn’t say much, she’s highly intelligent, self-assured, and possesses a dry wit, making her one of the most memorable characters in the film.

Katherine Johnson from Hidden Figures

We’re ending the list on Katherine Johnson, a character based on a real woman. Johnson is a mathematician who worked as a human computer for NASA during a time when African Americans still had to use different bathrooms. Despite the adversity she faced for being a black woman, Johnson used her skills in analytic geometry to solve flight equations for Project Mercury — equations which no one else was able to solve! So she’s pretty cool, to say the least.

As a last note, although this list doesn’t include any examples, there are also plenty of queer women in STEM! Unfortunately they’re extremely underrepresented in pop culture, but there are thousands of them out in the real world. For those interested, here are a couple links that showcase awesome (and real) LGBTQ+ people in STEM:

https://www.500queerscientists.com/

https://lgbtstem.wordpress.com/

This article was written by Alexandra Barr