There's a reason girls and science don't mix: there's a role model shortage, especially in children's movies. The lack of ladies in STEM (science, technology engineering and math) fields is "troubling," reports The Washington Post's Anna Holmes. "According to a report released last month by the Department of Commerce, although females fill almost half of the jobs in the American economy, less than 25 percent of jobs in STEM fields are held by women." One reason ladies might shy away from geekier professions, argues Holmes, "there were no depictions of female characters involved in any sort of STEM career in children’s movies." That's not quite true: the study Holmes cites out of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media found three. So what exactly do these precious few role models look like?
Your daughter gets two choices: Astronaut or zany lab scientist. The study found three movies that have female characters in STEM jobs: Space Chimps, Horton Hears a Who and Fly Me to the Moon. Both Space Chimps and Fly Me to the Moon are movies about cartoon astronauts. One of the main monkeys in Space Chimps is indeed a girl chimp named Luna She's surrounded by boys, but she has a leading role, unlike Fly Me to the Moon in which all the main space-venturing bugs are boys. There is one lady bug though, Nadia, a soviet hottie who saves the bugs from space-crash death.
Beyond space travel, Horton Hears a Who features Dr. Mary Lou Larou, which the Suess Wiki describes as "a bit scatterbrained at times but also the "smartest of the staff at Who University." If your daughter is scared of heights or has more down to earth career goals, she might aspire to academia.
And that's it, those are all of the options. Not only was that it for STEM professions, but you can forget about medicine, business, law or politics. The study found zero women in any of those professions in children's films.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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