A Look At TV’s Most Powerful Women In STEM

Photos via Getty Images

Not so hidden figures

Katherine Johnson spent more than 30 years working for NASA where, among her other achievements, she calculated the flight trajectories that allowed astronaut Alan Shepard to become the first American in space. In 2016, NASA announced a token of appreciation: a building, the Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility, would be named in her honor. Johnson was 97. Her story was turned into a movie, Hidden Figures—with a screenplay by former NASA intern Allison Schroeder and based on the eponymous book by Margot Lee Shetterly—that stars Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe, and Octavia Spencer as three black female mathematicians serving as NASA’s famous “human computers” during an era where women were actively discouraged from pursuing STEM and the organization had segregated bathrooms. The movie reveals how even though STEM fields have been historically dominated by white men, women of all colors have been at the forefront of scientific advancements in spaceflight and other arenas without receiving their due credit. Johnson is one of many such women; others include Rosalind Franklin, a molecular biologist on the team that discovered the double helix structure of DNA, and Maryam Mirzakhani, who in 2014 became the first woman to win the Fields Medal since the prestigious mathematics prize was created in 1936. All have been hidden figures for too long.

Women currently make up half of U.S. workers but less than a quarter of the STEM workforce—which, not incidentally, offers higher earning potential for those women than do non-STEM fields. The issue isn’t competency. According to a study on open source software, code written by female computer programmers is better received by their peers than code written by men, but only in a gender-blind study. This proves women have to fight hidden biases like the persistent cultural narrative that science and tech are masculine fields.

Now there are several new initiatives stepping in to bridge the gender gap in technology and innovation. General Motors recently announced a partnership with the nonprofit Girls Who Code to make technology and mentorship more accessible for girls from underserved communities; GM anticipates that this could create a 200 percent increase in the number of women in computing in the next decade. In addition to exposure, women need—to borrow Laverne Cox’s term—"possibility models" that show them they can pursue careers in STEM. Research suggests the more girls see women kicking butt in STEM jobs on screen, the more they will be encouraged to join them IRL. To accelerate this, the National Academy of Engineering co-sponsored a competition, The Next MacGyver, to find the next great TV pitch with a female engineer as its lead. While we eagerly wait for those shows to get developed, we already have smart female characters on TV who have helped to challenge gender stereotypes by normalizing the presence of women in scientific and technical fields. Click through the slideshow below to see some of the most inspirational—albeit fictional—women in STEM on television. There’s a very good chance that seeing one of them create binary code or excel in robotics will inspire America’s next Katherine Johnson.  

Photo via Fox

The X-Files: Dana Scully, doctor and FBI agent
During the series’ initial run in the late ’90s, Gillian Anderson’s loving portrayal of the highly intelligent and hyper-rational Agent Scully inspired a generation of women to pursue science—a phenomenon known as The Scully Effect. Scully reinterpreted Einstein for her undergraduate thesis, so it’s no surprise that when the powers that be went looking for a hard scientist to make sense of Fox Mulder’s ravings about extraterrestrial activity, she was the first pick. In the revival, Scully has returned to her roots as a medical doctor—she was recruited to the FBI straight out of medical school—at Our Lady of Sorrow Hospital where she treats sick children with rare conditions.

Photo by Imani Givertz

Premiering today via NYLON

Small Talks, aka Cayley Spivey, has come a long way since starting a band, then becoming the entire band herself and forging her own fan base from the ground up. On her recent album A Conversation Between Us, she began to unpack any lingering baggage with one particular song: "Teeth." Today, she premieres the accompanying music video exclusively via NYLON.

"'Teeth' is about my personal battle with letting go of the past," Spivey tells NYLON, admitting that it's easily her favorite song off of A Conversation Between Us.

Watch the video for "Teeth" below.

Small Talks - Teeth (Official Music Video) - YouTube

Photos by Joe Maher/Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

Must have been pretty awkward

Taylor Swift and Sophie Turner were guests on the U.K.'s The Graham Norton Show together, which must have been awkward for Turner's husband, Joe Jonas, seeing as he also happens to be Swift's ex. I wonder if his name came up?

The interview doesn't come out until Friday night, but promotional photos show the two sharing a couch. Swift is making an appearance to perform her new single, "ME!" while Turner is promoting her new film, X- Men: Dark Phoenix. But it seems necessary for the two to be asked about Jonas.

Swift was just on the Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month, where she brought up the fact that she felt bad for putting Jonas "on blast" on DeGeneres' show back in 2008 by telling the audience that he broke up with her in a record-setting short phone call. But, according to Swift, she and Jonas are chill now, since it happened pretty long ago, which means she's probably already hung out with Turner and maybe even gossiped about him with her.

We can only hope that they get the chance to spill some tea on television.

Screenshot via YouTube, Photo Courtesy of HBO

"That's! His! Auntie!"

Leslie Jones has rewatched the Game of Thrones finale with a beer in hand, Seth Meyers at her side, and a full camera crew ready to take in all her glorious reactions. Spoilers ahead, but, if you haven't watched last week's episode already, that's kind of on you at this point.

When Jon Snow started to make out with Daenerys, also known as his aunt, only to stab her through the chest moments later, it was emotional whiplash for everyone watching. And, Jones' reactions—both from her first and second viewing—sum it all perfectly.

"That's! His! Auntie! [gagging noises]," Jones says before making an aside about calling the police if her uncle ever tried to do the same. But then the knife goes in, and Jones screams. "Did you see that?!" Jones asks, "Yeah bitch, that's a knife in you." Meyers points out the funniest part of all: "Why are you so upset about someone kissing their aunt but totally fine with someone killing their aunt?" Jones replies, "Because that bitch needed to go," and, well, same.

Other highlights from the comedians' rewatch include comparing Dany's victory speech to a bad improv gig, predicting that their dogs would have less of a reaction to their deaths than Drogon did to his mother's, and more.

Watch all of Jones' reactions from this Late Night clip below.

Game of Jones: Leslie Jones and Seth Watch Game of Thrones' Series Finale

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These lyrics are a lot

Robbie Tripp, aka Curvy Wife Guy, is back with a music video, titled "Chubby Sexy," starring his wife and a trio of models. In it, Tripp raps about his bold choice to find women with an average body size attractive.

The video begins with a series of statements laid over some pool water: "Curves are the new high fashion," "Chubby is the new sexy," "We Out Here." Tripp posits that these queens deserve an anthem, which they do. What they do not deserve is this Cursed Song. As he lists all the names he knows to call them by (thick, thicc, and BBW), one model (who I really, really hope was paid well) squirts some lotion down her cleavage, and Tripp begins dancing.

"My girl chubby sexy/ Call her bonita gordita," Tripp states in his chorus, before going on to compare "big booty meat" to the peach emoji. Another thing he mentions is that his wife can't find a belt that fits her waist, and that's why he calls her James and the Giant Peach. He then tries to dab. Here are some of the other Cursed highlights from his, uh, verses:

Got those Khaleesi curves/ Knows how to dragon slay
She like a dude that's woke/ We like a girl that's weighty
Some say a chubby girl that's risky/ But they ain't met a curvy girl that's frisky
Imma dunk that donk like I'm Andrew Wiggins.
Thick like an Amazon/ Built like Big Ben.

Tripp says one thing in the video that I couldn't agree more with: "She don't need a man." No, she does not. Please run. If you must, watch the entire video, below. Or send it to your nemesis!

Robbie Tripp - Chubby Sexy (Official Music Video)

Photo by Emma McIntyre / Getty Images.

See the promo here

It was bound to happen. The Kadashians and Jenners have committed themselves to letting the cameras roll on their lives, for better or for worse. So if you thought that the Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson cheating scandal was off limits, you thought wrong. The trailer for Sunday's episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was just released, and it involves the famous family working through the fallout of what happened when Woods went to a party at Thompson's house.

The teaser includes the infamous clip of Khloé Kardashian screaming "LIAAAARRRRRR." It's still not explicitly clear who prompted that strong response. She could be responding to Thompson, who clearly isn't always honest. Or she could be reacting to Woods account of the events on Red Table Talk. But the most revealing moment comes when we see Kylie Jenner—who was Woods' best friend before all of this happened—react for the first time.

In a heart-to-heart conversation, momager Kris Jenner says, "For you and Jordyn, it's like a divorce." Kylie only offers this in response: "She fucked up." Based on Woods' version of events—which I'm inclined to believeThompson is the one who fucked up. Still, I'm hoping for some kind of reconciliation between the two longtime friends. Perhaps we'll have to wait until next season for that.

Check out the promo video below.