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Film and Television Tell Children Who Can Be Scientists

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Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully

Seeing women in STEM in media has a significant impact on girls, a study found. Nearly two-thirds of women working in STEM today say that X-Files protagonist Dana Scully served as a role model.

The portrayal of STEM jobs in U.S. film and television largely reinforces the narrative that scientists are white men, according to a study by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Male STEM characters outnumber female ones by 62.9% to 37.1%, and most STEM characters (71.2%) are white. The study also found that films and television shows perpetuate the myth that some scientific disciplines are inappropriate for women.

The team surveyed girls and women aged 11-24 to find out their opinions of and experiences in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). One-third of girls and women surveyed said they have considered a STEM career, but only one-quarter expressed an intent to go into STEM.

However, nearly 83% of study participants said that it was important to them to see female STEM characters on the screen. When asked what might encourage or discourage them from scientific careers, girls and women report increased interest in pursuing STEM if they feel that it will be a collaborative career and will not subject them to sexism or gender bias, the study found.

From Nature
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