TV Shows
Published July 30, 2018

How Real Life Badass Female Scientists Shatter Stereotypes Onscreen

The Comic-Con panel discussed women in science in pop culture.

Comic-Con brought together a group made up of creative teams in entertainment and women in science for the panel "Shattering Stereotypes: Badass Female Scientists in the Lab and on the Screen." 

Female scientists are becoming more and more prominent in pop culture, and it is more important than ever for women in science see themselves represented onscreen and to let future generations of scientists and creatives see their future.

Characters like Shuri in Marvel Studios' “Black Panther” and Agent Jemma Simmons on “Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” show different aspects of how working in science is and can be, an attainable goal for young women looking towards the field of S.T.E.M.. 

“Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” producers Monica Owusu-Breen and Nora Zuckerman knew that seeing Fitz and Simmons on the ABC Marvel series was an important influence in raising interest in science. Fitz and Simmons are the heart of the show, and Simmons plays a huge part in breaking stereotypes. Instead of just spitting out lines and scientific facts, she’s questioning and curious. Owusu-Breen observed, “Even if Simmons finds something disgusting, she still finds joy in discovery.”

The creative teams from the field of entertainment talked about how real world inspiration like panelist Shirley Deese—an aerospace engineer—inspired them to create characters that lead away from the cliché stereotypes of who we see as scientists in movies and on television. Reese herself described how seeing women in S.T.E.M. on screen is important to inspire a whole new generation, and how technology is colorblind and gender-blind.

As the chairperson of the San Diego professional chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, Reese knows the importance of seeing “Black Panther” on the big screen. “Shuri made me want to go back 10 years and do all the stuff that people told me was not possible to do," said Deese. "Now when I go to work, I am so invigorated because I see young women that are coming behind me, that are just going to do such outstanding things. And that’s such an inspiration to me, it makes me want to continue on.”