I’ll admit, I work in a profession that, entertainment-wise, doesn’t have much of an image problem. From Murphy Brown to Broadcast News to His Girl Friday, there are plenty of dashing — or the female equivalent — women reporters in movies and television for girls to look up to.
By contrast, women in engineering and computer science complain that there are few high-profile heroines in their fields in popular culture to capture the imagination of a new generation. This is undoubtedly true. It’s also the case that it’s pretty hard to dramatise writing programming code. STEM has an image problem.
At the same time, though, I kind of feel like it does a disservice to women to suggest that they only pursue professions that seem sexy on the big screen. To the best of my knowledge, there aren’t a ton of male engineers on the big screen saving the world one mathematical equation at a time, either, yet plenty of guys decide they want to go into those fields. Are we to believe women are more swayed by Hollywood lights?
Yes, we need to send the message that more women belong in engineering and computer science. But surely there’s another way than to cast Bridget Jones, Structural Engineer.