The Lyda Hill Foundation and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount Saint Mary’s University have teamed up to create a new study on the way movies and TV portray women in STEM careers. The study found that the representation of women in STEM careers in the media is much lower than men. This is counterproductive to inspiring young women and girls to pursue STEM careers.

If/Then seeks to further advance women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by empowering current innovators and inspiring the next generation of female pioneers through media. (Source: If/Then Lyda Hill Foundation)If/Then seeks to further advance women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by empowering current innovators and inspiring the next generation of female pioneers through media. (Source: If/Then Lyda Hill Foundation)

"There are plenty of stories to be told of women on the front lines of scientific breakthroughs and innovation, but their stories are seldom brought to the forefront of popular culture," said Lyda Hill, founder of the Lyda Hill Foundation. "We are at a pivotal time to change the ways girls and women think about themselves and their abilities to pursue careers in STEM. If we support a woman in STEM, then she can change the world."

The study is the most comprehensive analysis of STEM female representation in the media. The researchers also conducted a survey of girls' and womens' opinions of STEM representation.

The results confirmed what many women may already know or understand - 62.9% of STEM professionals represented in the media are men. This statistic hasn’t changed in 10 years. Only 37.1% of STEM professionals in TV or movies are women. Men outnumber women in STEM roles nearly two to one. The study found that while one-third of women and girls say they have considered a career in STEM, only one-fourth of them pursue it. But 82.7% of women and girls believe that it is important to see women in STEM in the media. The team believes that if women in STEM were more represented, it would inspire more young women and girls to peruse STEM careers. Women are also more likely to peruse STEM careers if they know a woman who works in STEM or if they are encouraged to pursue STEM from a young age.

The study is the basis for Lyda Hill Foundation’s “If/Then” initiative which aims to promote women in STEM. The report is available on the If/Then initiative site.