05 May 2017
This is a blog posted under UK Huffington Post by Edwina Dunn, CEO of Starcourt Chair of Your Life in UK.
The blog starts from the recent Disney movie “Beauty And The Beast”. Emma Watson’s recently spoken about her decision to re-shape the story of Belle, the character she plays in the 2017 remake of the classic tale Beauty and the Beast. In the original plot and featured in the popular 1991 Disney animation, the protagonist Belle was simply known to ‘like books’. Watson has extended this narrative – turning our heroine into an inventor who creates a washing machine, which cleverly provides her with more time to read and learn.
While most of the Disney’s heroines are Queens and Princesses with skills in sewing, singing and cooking, it is the first time that a leading female Disney character has demonstrated any substantial engineering skills. The need for STEM role models in popular culture is more important than ever, and yet more absent than ever. It’s not just Disney but across the board, the majority of mathematicians and scientists on TV and in film – whether real or fictional – are portrayed by geeks lacking social skills, often in lab coats, and almost always men. No wonder so many young people are put off.
I agree with Edwina saying that we are simply not doing enough to show young people the many inspiring men and women who are right now working on projects to provide the world with cleaner energy sources, to give us healthier foods, to cure cancer, to provide those without shelter with smart homes and so much more.
Instead many of us consciously or subconsciously frame these people as academics who we can’t relate to. We normalise a disregard for STEM by openly admitting to being bad at maths when we wouldn’t dare mock ourselves for being illiterate. In so doing, we are turning more young people off studying the very subjects that will unlock future careers. We all have a role to play at breaking these tired stereotypes.
We believe that it’s time for us to elevate the the status of STEM role model. We will start from promoting STEM for Girls programs and work with organization to give chance for girls to try and get more hands-on STEM experience that is fun and challenging. We hope it can inspire girls interest and allow them to think STEM as their interest in their learning journey.