December 8, 2014

Cracking the Code: Media Portrayals of Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

Dec 8, 2014
6:00 PM ET
New York


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“It’s our lab, Fitz, not your lab” —Jemma Simmons, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

“I work with computers!” —Chloe O’Brian, 24

What role can entertainment programming play in galvanizing girls and women to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields? Women hold under twenty-five percent of our country’s STEM jobs, and while education, recruitment, mentoring, and other support networks all have crucial roles to play in offsetting this imbalance, evidence suggests that characters like Simmons and Chloe can make a difference, by functioning as persuasive role models and changing perceptions that STEM fields are unwelcoming to women. Witness, for example, the so-called “CSI effect,” crediting programs with strong female leads like the CSI franchise and Bones for the statistical dominance of women enrollees in forensic-science programs at colleges across the country.

This panel brings together television actors, writers, and producers to assess media portrayals of women in the STEM fields over the decades, contemplating what advances if any have been made and what can be done as we look to the future. Illustrative clips from the Paley Center archives will be screened, showcasing a wide range of representations from Silicon Valley to The Big Bang Theory. As Dana Scully—as valiant a champion of systemized knowledge as television has ever known—once advised her recalcitrant X-Files partner: “Listen, Mulder, what you can’t question is the science.”

In association with Girls Who Code

Funding for this event is provided by





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Elizabeth Henstridge, "Jemma Simmons," Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Carrie Kemper, Writer, Silicon Valley
Aisha Tyler, Actress, Archer, Whose Line Is It Anyway?
David Bushman, Television Curator, The Paley Center for Media
Moderator: Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO, Girls Who Code


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