Women who want to be scientists aren’t so faint-hearted as to be stopped by a sitcom, writes Heather Mac Donald in City Journal.
New York Times science reporter Natalie Angier recently called for renewed attention to the lack of proportional representation of women in science. . . . The imbalance in the sciences, Angier reported, is especially bad in physics, where just 6 percent of full professors are women. After canvassing some current theories explaining the imbalance, Angier offered her own scapegoats: “Bubble-headed television shows like ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ with its four nerdy male physics prodigies and the fetching blond girl next door.”
Imagine the devastation that such a show might wreak. A 15-year-old math whiz is happily immersed in the Lorentz transformations, the basis for the theory of special relativity. She looks up at the tube and sees a fictional group of male physics students bashfully speaking to a feisty blonde. Her confidence and enthusiasm shattered, she drops out of her AP physics course and starts hanging out at the mall with the cheerleading squad.
Will she think: I can’t succeed in science? Or: I will be hanging out with nerdy guys at MIT?