By Ally Marotti
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A new study reveals that a lack of female representation in popular culture stands to threaten not just the future of STEM industries but also efforts made to encourage girls and women to enter the male-dominated fields.
Women are outnumbered by men nearly 2 to 1 in science, technology, engineering and math roles on TV, and a new study suggests that dramatic imbalance might be discouraging girls from pursing STEM careers.
The numbers hardly improved between 2007 and 2017, according to the study, which was released this week and looked at more than 1,000 characters across television shows, movies and content on streaming platforms.
The study, from the Lyda Hill Foundation and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, comes amid efforts by members of the tech industry and educators to increase the number of girls that go into STEM careers and empower those that have to move into leadership positions.
In the tech industry in Chicago, for example, networks of women working to reduce barriers for their peers are growing, and more women are moving into positions of power. Still, women held roughly 22 percent of technology jobs in Chicago and nationally last year, according to data from Downers Grove-based trade association CompTIA.
The lack of female representation in popular culture stands to threaten not just the future of the STEM industries but also efforts the industry and educators have made to encourage girls and women to enter the male-dominated fields, said Nicole Small, president of the Dallas-based Lyda Hill Foundation, which funded the study.
“(Girls are) getting good messages from role models and teachers,” she said. “But then they go out into the world, and whether it’s what they’re seeing on Instagram and YouTube, these messages are not being reinforced in the right ways.