There’s a reason Siri, Alexa and AI are imagined as female: sexism

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Virtual assistants are increasingly popular and present in our everyday lives: literally with Alexa, Cortana, Holly, and Siri, and fictionally in films Samantha (Her), Joi (Blade Runner 2049) and Marvel’s AIs, FRIDAY (Avengers: Infinity War), and Karen (Spider-Man: Homecoming). These names demonstrate the assumption that virtual assistants, from SatNav to Siri, will be voiced by a woman. This reinforces gender stereotypes, expectations, and assumptions about the future of artificial intelligence. Continue reading “There’s a reason Siri, Alexa and AI are imagined as female: sexism”

Travel Back In Time and Into Film: Women scientists in Hidden Figures and Timeless

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Last week I participated in an Into Film (North) organised screening of Hidden Figures with a women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) post-screening panel discussion at the historic and beautiful Manchester Central Library. I chaired a post-screening discussion of the movie with two phenomenal women engineers – electrical engineer Dr Ozak Esu and software engineer Jessica Wong – and a room full of teenagers. It was great to see the positivity, enthusiasm, and honesty of the speakers responding to questions about workplace inequality, institutionalised discrimination, and pathways for young women into STEM.
Continue reading “Travel Back In Time and Into Film: Women scientists in Hidden Figures and Timeless”

Hidden Figures: Screening Hidden Histories

Originally posted: June 2017TIN-490 Hidden Figures_large_all_0

This year [2017] the British Society for the History of Science (BSHS) ran screenings across the country to celebrate and highlight the history of science film Hidden Figures. I worked with Jessica van Horssen (Leeds Beckett University) to bring together interested people to view the film and discuss how the history of science, race, and gender are presented on screen. I helped to organise #HiddenFiguresParty events in the North East and gave talks and facilitated post-screening discussions in Newcastle, and in Leeds alongside Jessica – fulfilling a teenage dream of working at the glorious Hyde Park Picture House. Continue reading “Hidden Figures: Screening Hidden Histories”

Women scientists are more than capable of leading blockbuster storylines

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There was a time when the only scientists you would see in feature films were men, and white men at that. But women scientists are finally getting the storylines they deserve. Yes we’ve had female scientists in past movies but their opportunities were limited, so it’s exciting to see this generation being given the centre stage. Continue reading “Women scientists are more than capable of leading blockbuster storylines”

Sisters in Science: Ghostbusters Answers the Call

Originally posted: August 2017GhostbustersFeat2.jpg

We need women of science on screen – in major summer blockbusters working together to discover, empower, and save the world. As Ghostbusters’ male ‘evil scientist’ exclaims “do it in the right place, with enough power, and there goes the barrier!” – he’s talking about releasing supernatural creatures on New York but it works for Ghostbusters too as it pushes at the gender barrier. It puts at least a small crack in the glass ceiling by showing that these “sisters in science” are what scientists can and do look like. By normalising women of science on screen and by having them as lead characters rather than sci-candy sidekicks the film industry can show that being a scientist is an entirely achievable goal for the young woman looking to her future career. Continue reading “Sisters in Science: Ghostbusters Answers the Call”

If She Can See It, She Can Be It: Women of STEM on Television

Originally posted: July 2015

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She is science (Cosima/Maslany)

I am a self-proclaimed Orphan Black geek monkey and I am obsessed with Clone Club (and their marvelous dance parties). When I first started to explore the representation of women in science in entertainment media I wrote a blog post on the subject to help organize my thoughts on how and where women working in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) were represented. I got a great response from people who read the article and received lots of tweets about the mysterious Cosima Niehaus. After a quick google I binge-watched the first two seasons of Orphan Black (an almost entirely female-led science-based series) and excitedly watching seasons three on four on TV. Continue reading “If She Can See It, She Can Be It: Women of STEM on Television”

Rise of the Women?: Screening Female Scientists

Originally posted: March 2015

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Promotional shots of Cornelia (Judy Greer) and Ellie (Keri Russell) show ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ only named female characters comforting a baby

One of my major issues with the most recent addition to the Planet of the Apes franchise, Dawn of the Planets of the Apes (Reeves, 2014), were the roles available to women – both human and ape. In my blog on the film I explored some of my thoughts on it and I noted that (the very few) female characters were only ‘represented as child bearers and care takers’. Continue reading “Rise of the Women?: Screening Female Scientists”

The Science Sleuths: Fighting Crime with ‘Science’ in Golden Era Comics

Originally posted: January 2015tumblr_n831j3HUvN1rz1rzuo3_1280.png

Jill Trent first appeared in issue #6 of the pulp comic The Fighting Yank published by Nedor Comics. The Fighting Yank was a patriotic Second World War series launched in 1941 and was about ‘America’s Bravest Defender’ – Nedor’s pulpy equivalent to the Shield and Captain America. Jill Trent is a rather unusual character for the era; a scholarly female scientist who used her own knowledge to fight crime. Continue reading “The Science Sleuths: Fighting Crime with ‘Science’ in Golden Era Comics”