Zero Order


On-screen women in STEM: Nerd edition

Posted in Uncategorized by Amy Ross on February 28, 2012

Today the American Association for University Women (AAUW) posted “Our Favorite On-screen Women in STEM”.  While they had some good choices,  I found a few of them questionable.  Hermione Granger? She was a wizard.  Are there really so few female scientists they had to name Sandy from Spongebob Squarepants?

So with that, I give you my top five onscreen women in STEM. I will warn you it’s going to be heavily sci-fi biases. This not geeking out thing on the blog isn’t going well at the moment…

1. Martha Jones, Doctor Who

Martha met the Doctor when she was a med student. Through her travels in time and space, she was able to get out of scrapes by thinking on her feet, solving problems, and occasionally, treating a dislocation in a humanoid fish. Oh, and she saved the world.

2. Toshiko “Tosh” Sato, Torchwood

Tosh was the computer and technology expert for Torchwood, a secret alien-fighting agency. Access to government databases? Alien technology? No problem.

3. Leslie Winkle,  The Big Bang Theory

Leslie is an experimental physicist who uses likes to use lab equipment to prepare her breakfast. Although Amy Farrah Fowler gets more attention, I’ve always like Leslie. She had decent social skills and didn’t hesitate to put Sheldon in his place.

4. B’Elanna Torres, Star Trek: Voyager


Flunking out of Starfleet Academy didn’t stop B’Elanna from becoming Chief Engineer when Voyager was flung to the Delta Quadrant. She was tough and could fix anything. And don’t laugh; Voyager had some good episodes.

5. Lisbeth Salander, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and lesser known sequels

Although she never graduated high school, Lisbeth is a brilliant computer hacker. She’s curious, strong willed, and insists on justice, even if she has to take drastic measures.

Honorable Mentions:
Jean Grey, X-Men movies
Jordan Cochran, Real Genius
Kaylee Frye, Firefly
Liz Shaw, Classic Doctor Who

What was interesting about coming up with this list was how few women were eligible and how long it took to think of them.  There are over 100 recurring characters on The Simpsons; not one is a woman in a STEM field.  There’s no shortage of women executives, lawyers, or politicians on TV, but scientists? Not so much.

On the upside, I had a much easier time thinking of actual women in STEM. Marie Curie. Rosalind Franklin. Maud Lenora Menten. Barbara McClintock. Danica McKellar. And of course, there’s all the women faculty members and industry people who aren’t famous.

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  1. And the #1 Sci-Fi (my opinion) female scientist is…..

    You got to watch her on Stargate SG-1, it’s and awesome 10 season show of exploration to other planets in the Galaxy via wormholes.


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