Female scientists on the big screen

Physics professor Sidney Perkowitz reflects on how women scientists are portrayed in film

Sidney Perkowitz
Jul 20, 2006
I'm a physicist by trade, but I've always had a passion for science in the movies. For the past year I've been putting the finishing touches on a book about science and scientists on film. In the process, I've had the enviable job of soaking up literally hundreds of hours of DVDs of science films of all varieties -- from biopics to B-movies and blockbusters. That's a lot of popcorn.Naturally I was interested in the accuracy of the science that I encountered, and in the prejudices about science and its purveyors that were inevitably reflected in various movies. But one thing that really struck me was how women scientists are portrayed, and how they differ significantly from their male counterparts.First, it's important to look at how many films have included female scientists as characters. In a survey of 60 films containing scientists between 1929 and 2003, Eva Flicker from...