The Marvel Comics branch of the Disney empire has had its issues in the past welcoming women, but the movie arm seems to realize that you don’t get great success without reaching out to everyone. Specifically, to promote Thor: The Dark World, opening November 8, they’re encouraging girls to think about careers in science and technology.
As a tie-in with the Thor movie character of Jane Foster (who, as played by Natalie Portman, has been updated from a nurse to an astrophysicist), Marvel Studios is teaming up with UL (Underwriters Laboratories), Dolby Laboratories, National Academy of Science, Girl Scouts USA, and the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood to sponsor the Ultimate Mentor Adventure.
Girls in grades 9-12 (ages 14 and up) are encouraged to speak with women scientists (those engaged in STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) to discover what they do. The girls then make a short video about what they learn and why they want to be like Jane Foster. The best will be recognized with a trip to California to meet more “incredible Women in Science” and participate in a documentary short to be screened with Thor: The Dark World on its opening day.
Women are still largely underrepresented in STEM fields, and I’m glad to see awareness encouraged that women can work in these areas. However, as someone who went through one of these programs myself as a youngster, it’s not until sexist decision-maker attitudes are changed — and the dinosaur generations die off — that I think we’ll see real progress. Anyway, I applaud this effort, even if it is just to promote a Marvel movie.
Update: The winners have been named:
- Abigail Clark, Cincinnati, Ohio, age 15 in 10th grade at The Seven Hills School
- Andrea Polis, Plymouth, Minn., age 18 in 12th grade at Wayzata High School
- Anoushka Bose, San Diego, Calif., age 15 in 10th grade, home schooled
- Ashley Smith, Flemington, NJ, age 15 in 10th grade at Hunterdon Central Regional High School
- Aurora Hake, Lakewood, Wash., age 14 in 9th grade at Annie Wright School
- Dina Benayad-Cherif, Lexington, Mass., age 17 in 12th grade at Lexington High School
- Jerrica Li, Longmeadow, Mass., age 15 in 10th grade at Longmeadow High School
- Jordan Taylor, Fairview, Tenn., age 16 in 11th grade, home schooled
- Rachel Whitman, Canton, Ga., age 17 in 12th grade at Cherokee High School
- Sydney Guillory, Chicago, Ill., age 17 in 12th grade at Whitney M. Young Magnet High School