Monday, July 30, 2012

Women in science ... on television?!? Evidently not

Really, TV people? Again with the "male only" science hosts?
Image via Wikimedia Commons, credit to Wonderlane
Emily Willingham, DXS managing editor

Today, I've seen yet another casting call for the "new Bill Nye the Science Guy" specifying a need for a male host for a science show. In fact, female science show hosts are so rare that even when a call seems to invite women as well as men, the people who write it can only think of men as examples. Ahem. Tiresome. So tiresome, in fact, that it's inspired me to make my very first video rant on behalf of women in science. [Apologies for the wobbly, underwater-like camera and my lack of a chin. I'm a writer, dammit, not a videographer. Obviously.]

Who are these women who could host shows about science? Several obvious candidates come to mind, including Carin Bondar and Joanne Manaster, who are degreed and experienced on camera and in talking about science. Another one who just eats a camera is Danielle Lee, although she's a tad busy in Tanzania right now doing, you know, science. It's possible that even television folk might consider any one of the Science Cheerleaders reasonably presentable and sufficiently educated to talk science to a television audience, or any one of our featured science communicators in our Double Xpression series profiling women into science. And that's just a starting list of the articulate, camera-friendly women out there with degrees in science and a happy capacity for communicating it to the masses. 

So... can we take the gonads out of it? Or, better yet, let's Title IX this puppy and level the playing field by making sure that for opportunities like this, gonads of all kinds are welcome. Testes don't do the talking when we communicate science, so why are they an important requirement?

These views are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect or disagree with those of the DXS editorial team.


  1. I demonstrate kids' science experiments once a month on the Minneapolis/St.Paul NBC affiliate Kare11's morning news. Kare11 is lucky to have a woman anchor (Kim Insley) who is very interested in bringing science and technology to their viewers. What many people don't realize is that mothers are often the parents deciding what projects their kids do on a daily basis. If we want to raise scientific literacy in this country, who better to start the movement than moms? And who will moms respond to best on television? Not men, but....other women!

  2. I would totally unpseud to lead a science show!!!

  3. Ha! I was going to list you but then thought, "But the PSEUD!" So ... glad to hear it because you'd be another great candidate.

  4. I nominate Michelle Thaller.

  5. Good for you! you are absolutely right. Liz Heinecke - I am a mom- that works full time (not a scientist), but started a girls science camp in my guesthouse with a teacher so that my girls could explore scienece in the summers. I think you are right, mom's need to take this issue on and do our part. check out my blog would love to chat more about this subject and see your show... I grew up in Anoka, but live in Charlotte now.

  6. I'm an experienced TV host, reality TV star(Big Brother & others) & PhD neuroscientist living in LA. Sadly I've been told that networks even putting out casting calls for female science hosts are actually doing it just not to look sexist & are only hiring male science hosts. Waste of my time. Why can't women be considered credible science hosts? How are we going to inspire young women to go into science if they never see us on TV? So SAD!!

  7. We just decided to stop waiting for other people to tell us it was ok to talk about science on camera. We write, produce and star in our own videos about the world of arthropods. Universities, NGOs and government entities hire us to create smart, fun, quirky shows. We would love to break into the "mainstream" but TV networks also fear-monger (especially about bugs). So we do it our way and slowly, slowly get recognition for it. Great post!