Meet Erika Ebbel Angle, an MIT graduate, biochemist, and former Miss
Massachusetts of 1994 who is set to prove to girls everywhere that you
don't have to be a nerdy looking girl just because you like science.
Unfortunately, the message behind her new 'Dr. Erika Show' has critics thinking that the show might have missed the mark in debunking stereotypes about women in science.
For one thing, Erika's signature outfit on the show is a white lab coat topped with her pageant crown, which is a concept that led to the little girls in the audience telling the producers that they want to be "princess scientists." While the enthusiasm towards getting more girls interested in science is a noble effort, getting their attention by labeling everything with the word "princess" isn't necessarily the best way to go about it.
A study from the Univerisity of Michican acknowledged that while the "unfeminine" idea of the female scientist kept girls out of STEM, presenting beauty-focused STEM role models also "reduced middle school girls' current math interest, self-rated ability, and success expectations relative to gender-neutral STEM role models and depressed future plans to study math among STEM-disidentified girls."
Maybe if these shows didn't place so much emphasis on making science "girly enough", young girls might actually have a shot in gaining respect among their scientific peers for their brains instead of just based on how they look.