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Soap Opera for Luring Women to Tech is a Flop 349

Billosaur writes "The Register has an article by Mark Ballard on attempts to lure more women into the area of technology by a '...TV soap that depicts them making a success of careers traditionally pursued by men.' The Public Awareness of Science and Engineering (PAWS) Drama Fund has been attempting to develop a soap opera called 'Happy Valley' to encourage girls to pursue careers in science and technology by giving them successful role models to follow. The idea is tanking, however, as no one is willing to pick up the show. To quote the show's writer, Tony McHale: 'People say, why don't you do a science soap. My reply is that no-one will commission it, because it's boring.'"
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Soap Opera for Luring Women to Tech is a Flop

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  • Hour Long Drama (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Se7enLC ( 714730 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @05:00PM (#14582898) Homepage Journal
    They have a ton of them. They are called the "Hour Long Drama", and they are all over TV, but in prime-time instead of mid-morning.

    E.R., CSI, Numb3rs, I'm sure there are more. They have women, they have science. What more do you want?
    • E.R., CSI, Numb3rs, I'm sure there are more. They have women, they have science. What more do you want?

      Soap operas are a little different.
      • Re:Hour Long Drama (Score:2, Insightful)

        by 7macaw ( 933316 )
        Well, isn't the "soap-opera watching" type of woman is precisely what they want to overcome? If you're making a show that promotes not watching that type of show, no wonder no network will take it.
        • Re:Hour Long Drama (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Golias ( 176380 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @05:54PM (#14583512)
          Does the word "duh" come to mind for any of these people?

          The reason soaps are the way they are is because the largest marketable demographic that is at home from 11:00 AM until 3:00 PM is house-wives and stay-at-home moms of small children.

          If you want to reach teenaged girls, you don't produce a show for them that runs while they are at school.
          • Exactly. I'm not sure why this didn't strike them ... if they want to reach out to women who are entering the job market, 11AM - 2PM is definitely NOT the right timeslot. And frankly, I don't think that a soap opera is the right format, either. It seems to me they have a reputation as being something watched by more 'mature' folks ... I'm sure if you contacted the networks and either asked nicely or pretended to be interested in buying a lot of advertising time, they could give you demographic data on who e
    • Don't forget Crossing Jordan, with a female lead.

      What you have to remeber, though, is the difference between prime-time dramas and soaps is target audience. Soaps appeal to a different cross-section of women than prime-time. Prime time shows spend a lot of time trying to appeal to both men and women. Soaps make no such attempt.
    • Crossing Jordon (Score:3, Informative)

      by Parity ( 12797 )
      Crossing Jordan is the best example of a woman-in-science hour long show, I think; the title character being a woman and all. The main characters of Numb3rs are all men. CSI:* all have a fair mix. ER I don't watch.

      'Bones' may be a more contemporary example but I'm not sure if it'll survive the season. I kinda like it, though.

      Back in the day, Buffy The Vampire Slayer had cast the female character Willow as 'the computer geek'.
      • She's not THE main character, but she's one of them and still sets the same example of women in science jobs: Diane Foss [imdb.com]

        There was another woman who I can't find that was a research assistant for the Math Department that was on a lot of the episodes, too. She made a good female role model as well.
      • Yeah, but didn't Willow end up as the gay computer geek? I'm not sure she's the best way to tell women that it's OK to enter male-dominated fields.

        Bones is kind of fun, but then the main character is also a sort of freak who has to ask about every pop culture comment ("I don't know who that is.") Apparently she rarely leaves the lab or speaks to living people.

        Jordan is only mildly weird, and the various CSI* women generally seem to have lives and families (although I'm not sure that any of them, or any o

    • E.R., CSI, Numb3rs, I'm sure there are more. They have women, they have science. What more do you want?

      For one, I'd sure like a documentary series instead of a drama. If you want to lure people into science, show them what it's actually like, not some goofy dramatized version. A good show like scientific american frontiers with actual interesting science in it will do a lot better than anything you can make up.
      • I think what it comes down to is that people who are likely to want to go into science are not likely to want to watch Soap Operas... So effectively, they are marketing to a nonexistant audience!
    • Re:Hour Long Drama (Score:5, Insightful)

      by natedubbya ( 645990 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @05:37PM (#14583323)
      There has always been a push to get women in science, yet there is no similar push to get men in literature, social sciences, education, etc. It is extremely lopsided and the efforts are beginning to seriously affect how boys progress through the school system. The male/female ratio in college is now 44%/56%. Such numbers mean we need more pro-male programs, not more pro-female. Newsweek had a recent story [msn.com] about this and other factors, it's a good read.
      • The male/female ratio in college is now 44%/56%.

        You kids have it easy these days! I went to an engineering-focused school [umr.edu] where there was 4 guys to every 1 girl. (But the old timers told me that we had it good... after all, the school started in the 1800s with an all-male role.)

        I would have been happier with a college experience even with 2 guys to every girl, let alone the majority of students being women.

    • They are all about law enforcement or medical employees, not scientific research or technology.
      • I don't know of any shows about anyone, male or female, in scientific research or technology. Just throwing that out there.
        • I think that's because, with some rare exceptions, the day-to-day lives of people working in labs are honestly not something that you'd want to watch on TV.

          Real physics research isn't like Bill Nye. It's quite often hours of tedious data collection, followed by days or weeks of number crunching. That's not to say that it's not enjoyable -- I loved the time I spent working in the lab -- but it's going to make exactly thrilling television.

          I've talked to people doing some very interesting and cutting-edge bioc
    • Re:Hour Long Drama (Score:3, Interesting)

      by radtea ( 464814 )

      CSI is so-so on the techical aspects of science, but very, very good on the attitude of scientists, especially in showing them as ordinary people with ordinary problems who also have this common focus on fact and evidence that really does make them different from most other people. Numb3rs is terrible--full of geeky cliches and lame reasoning. If you set out to create a show that said, "Math is mysterious and hard and only super-geniuses who never bathe can deal with it" you could hardly do better.

      I think
      • "CSI is so-so on the techical aspects of science, but very, very good on the attitude of scientists, especially in showing them as ordinary people with ordinary problems who also have this common focus on fact and evidence that really does make them different from most other people."

        Unfortunately, for those that would use it as example, the people are sufficiently obsessed with the job that there pretty much aren't any of them that "have a life."

        I don't think you can become a Ph.D like the Gil Grissom

  • WHY? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @05:01PM (#14582905) Homepage
    Why do we want women in tech? I'm not saying I'm against women in tech, I just wonder why, if they don't want to do it, we should want them to want it? Someone enlighten me? I don't hear a lot of clamoring over men in educational fields or nursing or anything else that's largely female dominated. Are we pushing for "equality" without regard for whether or not they WANT to do this?
    • We need women, don't we? If you're working in the tech industry, wouldn't it be nice to be able to date somebody who shared similar interests?

      I think we'd all give our left... uhhh... big toe to find a nice Hot Geek Girl.
      • You probably don't want to date a geek girl; at least not in your discipline. Unless you're the submissive type. Or she is. Otherwise the competition will get in the way. Geeks make very harsh judgements about other geeks, in my experience.
      • If you're working in the tech industry, wouldn't it be nice to be able to date somebody who shared similar interests?

        Slight tangent here, but why does everyone always assume that the best match for you is a [b/g]f/spouse who has the same interests as you? In my experience, opposites tend to work best. Not only does differing interests give you something to talk about, but your different areas of expertise help you complete each other. I don't know where I'd be if my wife was just as absent minded as I am, a
    • Because I need more eye candy at work. The guys on my team are cool, but not much to look at.
    • by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @05:20PM (#14583124) Homepage Journal
      Because there's reason to believe that women are pushed out of tech.

      It may be, as the Harvard president was attacked for suggesting, that women are not as capable as men in scientific and mathematical fields. The brains of women and men ARE different, and that could be one way. I'm willing to believe that on average, a woman is less likely than a man to want to be a programmer, in a biogically predetermined sense.

      However, that doesn't mean that all women are worse than all men in technical fields. Unfortunately, many girls are brought up to believe precisely that. They're told in ways subtle and not-so-subtle that they can't make it in science/math/engineering, and if you tell a young person enough times they come to believe it. Some female friends of mine recall being told point-blank, "Girls aren't good at math. Stop it." Stupid, yeah, but it happens.

      If nothing else, the lack of present role models for women in scientific fields gives them the message that women can't go into those fields. Yeah, there are some, but they're far outnumbered by men.

      So how many potentially brilliant programmers have we lost because Women Can't Do Computers? And how many women grow up with a fear or deep-seated misunderstanding of tech because they were told that they can't possibly be any good at it? Could your girlfriend/wife/female friend really program her own $*@#$& VCR if she hadn't been told at a young age it was impossible?

      The best solution is to eliminate the bias that girls receive, and I think the world is getting better at that. Girls are passing boys in the SAT math, for example. But some bias remains, and rather than wring our hands and decry it, we can also try to counteract it by explicitly showing them women who do like tech. If there aren't enough real ones, we can bootstrap the process with fictional ones.

      It may be pointless. It may not work; perhaps we already have as many female programmers as women who want to be programmers. And this kind of social engineering is as best unproven, if not actually backfiring.

      And in fact, there are pushes to get men into education, for precisely the same reason. There are fewer male nurses, and some who want to are pushed out of the field by the stereotype that they can't. There's a deficit of nurses, and I for one would like to see if we could encourage more men to take up the field. It's a reasonably lucrative profession, if men can get over the shame of being called by a "woman's" title. Perhaps a few extra male nurses on medical TV shows would help.
      • Agreed.

        When I was a kid (back in the 1970s), someone tried to explain the rationale for why women were not as appropriate as men for jobs like news anchors, lawyers, police officers, doctors, etc. The argument went something like this:

        Men are, or are perceived to be, more professional than women. So, the customers/clients of these positions would be more comfortable with men than with women. Thus, men tend to be hired for these jobs more than women and, similarly, boys are primed for these positions more th
      • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) ( 193358 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @06:06PM (#14583638) Homepage Journal
        > Because there's reason to believe that women are pushed out of tech.

        Yes. See the book "Unlocking the Clubhouse", about a longitudinal study of CMU CS undergrads.

        Over and over, the women reported that when they were girls the family PC wound up in their brother's room and they never got to tinker with it however much they wanted to.

        Undergrads enthusiastic about computers all too often transferred to other majors because they thought they were expected to emulate the MIT hacker culture in order to succeed. They were all high achievers who expected to give up parties and free time in exchange for an education, but they weren't willing to give up showers. Maybe if there were more figures like Emma Peel in popular culture they would have realized that you can both take care of yourself and gain skill.

        At the risk of being politically incorrect, the book did mention that women tended to take interest in useful applications of technology rather than burrowing into it for its own sake. Where a man might write a thesis about register allocation in compilers, a woman would more likely want to invent something like Logo.
      • by SIGFPE ( 97527 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @11:08PM (#14585907) Homepage

        If nothing else, the lack of present role models for women in scientific fields gives them the message that women can't go into those fields.

        Here is a list of all the role models I can remember looking up to growing up as a young kid enthusiastic about mathematics:
        1. ...er...

        I couldn't name a single mathematician as a kid. I had no role models. I didn't need to see TV programs about mathematicians to tell me that I enjoyed mathematics. I didn't know a single mathematician or scientist. Nobody in my family did science as a profession. Scientists were people in movies who wore lab coats and were the first to die when the experiment went out of control. They weren't someone I wanted to be. I liked mathematics because it was a fascinating subject and I could do it. I didn't do it because I wanted to be like someone else. I did it in spite of the fact that there was incredible peer pressure on me not to do because kids who like mathematics tend not to be the popular kids (until eventually you realise not being stingy with doing other kids' homework gave you a popularity of sorts).

        So tell me please, what do role models have to do with anything? If you need a role model to tell you that science or mathematics or computing is interesting then I think you probably ought to consider getting a job in acting so you can try to be like them all day long.

    • Acutally the secretarial, nursing and educational fields used to be male dominated when the fields were prestigious high wage positions. Actually the nursing field is still full of men particularly medics and paramedics.

      Actually, in the 1950's same arguement was made with regard to any form of work outside of the house. In 1920 the same arguement was applied to voting
    • Re:WHY? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by springbox ( 853816 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @06:53PM (#14584080)
      Why do we want women in tech? I'm not saying I'm against women in tech, I just wonder why, if they don't want to do it, we should want them to want it?

      You generally want women in science for the same reason you would want diversity in any field. It brings new perspectives and ideas to science because women usually lead lives that are a bit different from that of men.

      There are also a few ideas as to why there are low numbers of women in science:
      1.) Because the people already established in these fields (men) don't want them there and are doing things to make sure they don't succeed. (Like not giving referalls for jobs, not being very helpful when someone asks for help, etc.) Science is male dominated.
      2.) Because women choose not to enter a scientific field.

      Are we pushing for "equality" without regard for whether or not they WANT to do this?

      From my perspective, today it's more likely that the individual chocies of women are playing a greater factor than if people are trying to push them out. There doesn't appear to be any siginficant roadblocks in their way that would prevent them from going further in a scientific career today than in the past. So I would agree with that, and it does piss me off quite a bit when I hear about trying to get "women into science." The forced equality idea is crap especially if it's the case that the low numbers of women might actually be because of personal choice.

      Of course.... You also have to consider other factors that are probably influencing women to stay away from science such as -- our culture. If you notice the images and ideas that both men and women are bombarded with on a daily basis, then it becomes clear as to how people start to get ideas about what they're "supposed" to be doing with their lives. Some examples: Men and boys are often portrayed as tough, rugged individuals who should be outside playing games and exploring the world. Women and girls are often portrayed as soft, quiet individuals who are delicate and excell at domestic life (staying inside) and looking beautiful. Horray for stereotypes!

      Get my point? The whole pushing for equality thing is crap when if you consider that if you get rid of things like these completely stupid stereotypes that the problem of low numbers of women in science would probably fix itself.

  • by Average_Joe_Sixpack ( 534373 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @05:01PM (#14582908)
    They just needed a catchier title
    • I don't understand why no one will pick this up. Get hot enough chicks like this one [imdb.com] on the show and I guarantee you'll have everyone watching it in droves.

      This seriously seems like a slam-dunk to me. Maybe they just needed better writers.
  • Barbie (Score:3, Funny)

    by IAAP ( 937607 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @05:04PM (#14582931)
    Have the tech woman living a life like Barbie. Add in a deal with Matel for an "Engineer Barbie" that comes with her own laptop and you'll have a hit.
  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @05:04PM (#14582932) Homepage Journal
    To quote the show's writer, Tony McHale: 'People say, why don't you do a science soap. My reply is that no-one will commission it, because it's boring.'
    Coming up later: water - is it wet or what? Film at 10.
  • by Mrs. Grundy ( 680212 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @05:05PM (#14582940) Homepage
    This is a classic example of backward thinking. If you watch tv and see that people are portrayed a certain way and then look at reality and see that people do, at least on occasion, act the way they were represented on tv, you might draw the conclusion that people are acting this way because they saw it on tv. But this would probably be wrong. TV, more likely, is imitating life. Although people like to blame all manner of social ills on TV and entertainment, TV's worst crime is that it wastes your precious time, not that it coerces you into behaving like the fictional characters on the show. This is good because I watch a lot of The Simpsons and I don't think I could get my hair to style like Marge. If you think more women should be scientist maybe you should start by looking at the earliest values we instill in girls while at home and school.
    • It is ironic then that the feminists who advocate gender equality in the workplace are the same ones who assert that a career is more important than the traditional woman's role of instilling values in children.
    • If you were to replace all the content in the media from its current sexist and old fashioned view of gender to something that transmits a more egalitarian message, then you had better believe that America as a whole would start to change pretty quickly. But you're also partially right. One TV show isn't going to do much of anything outside of inspire a few individuals. You would basically need to rework the way basically everyone thinks in this country to make any changes.
  • PAWS? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @05:05PM (#14582949) Homepage
    I'm sorry, but where do you get "PAWS" from Public Awareness of Science and Engineering? Shouldn't that be "PASE"? There should be more stringeant rules for making acronyms!
  • Where is the sitcom to encourage men to be nurses or teachers?
    • Re:Hmm. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by amliebsch ( 724858 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @05:13PM (#14583047) Journal
      I don't know if you were trying to be funny or insightful (or both), but this really raises questions for me too. What, really, is the objective value in trying to convince women to do things they are freely choosing not to do? Given the absolute decline in school performance for boys and the increasing disparity between the sexes in academic performance, is this really the right thing to be concerned about? Or even the right message to be sending? If the message that boys receive is "scientists and engineers = female", are the already underperforming boys going to be more or less motivated to study math and science?
      • There's a current cover story in Newsweek covering the issue. Basically there has been such a push for girls to advance in certain subjects in school that there has been a see-saw effect where boys were neglected. I haven't read the article, but I did hear an interview with the author and there were some good points raised.


    • "Scrubs"? "Head of Class"? Oooo that one goes back a ways, don't it?
  • Mount Everest (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wombatmobile ( 623057 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @05:07PM (#14582973)

    To direct good women towards our form of goodness is a challenge far greater than all of science.

    Good women prefer apes.

    • Re:Mount Everest (Score:2, Interesting)

      Good women prefer apes.

      No... good women prefer men who don't sit around whining about how apes get all the girls.

      All the brainy virgins out there just can't wrap their minds around a simple basic reality. If everything you have to offer a girl can be obtained by her in platonic friendship, then why should she go any further than "just friends"?

      Get fit, dress nice, and stop thinking about how big your brain is. There are plenty of women.
      • Dude relax! There's plenty of bad women to go round.

        Even the best women are bad once.

        Get fit, dress nice, and stop thinking

        Can't hear you, dude. I'm debugging.

      • good women prefer men who don't sit around whining about how apes get all the girls.
        In other words, they prefer apes.
      • If everything you have to offer a girl can be obtained by her in platonic friendship, then why should she go any further than "just friends"?
        Wow, is this "Why should he buy the cow when he can get the milk for free?" spelled sideways?
  • Bad Ideas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by softspokenrevolution ( 644206 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @05:08PM (#14582981) Journal
    Okay, now I don't know much about young girls, but I have to say that during the period that they'd be most influenced by TV characters I don't think thatthey'd be watching Soaps. I mean, correct me if I'm wrong but the target audience of day time television isn't the person that is likely to get off their ass an enter into science or engineering.
    • Yeah, the techies that I know, both male and female, don't seem to be too interested in soaps.
    • You're assuming it would be on in the daytime. That is true for American Soaps, but this TV show is British and British soaps are in Prime Time, between 7.30 and 8pm.
  • Who cares?? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gasmonso ( 929871 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @05:08PM (#14582982) Homepage

    So what if there aren't many women in tech jobs....maybe thats because they don't wanna be there. How many men are in nursing as compared to women? You don't see too many male hookers either ;) It's a non-issue that bores me quite frankly.

    http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]
    • Re:Who cares?? (Score:3, Insightful)

      There aren't many male prostitutes servicing women (but more than you'd think) but there are a STAGGERING number of male prostitutes servicing men. Just being nitpicky :)
  • If I where to stand up and look around my cube ("Aiee... bright light! bright light!") I'd be able to count about a dozen women. Unfortunately, none of them clamouring for my attention (although my wife would probably disagree with the unfortunate part). I work in a highly technical company and the male-female split is, I would estimate, about 60-40.

    There are plenty of knowledgeable women out there in technology out there. At least, in my field.
  • Had some brainy women, too.
  • In my daughter's peer group the female science-oriented teens view the character of Samantha Carter as a role model.
  • by thesandtiger ( 819476 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @05:14PM (#14583060)
    ... they want smart women, yet they go about trying to gather 'em by insulting their intelligence.

    I got into technology because it was interesting and challenging. My gender had very little to do with my career aspirations. Maybe I'm a fluke, but I sure as hell never felt like certain fields were "off limits" to me just because I'm a setter rather than a pointer. I think the only time I ever heard "girls can't do that..." is when I tried to pee standing up, so maybe I'm just lucky.

    I'll also say that I don't want more women in tech. I don't want more men in tech. I don't want more fluffy orange velociraptors in tech. What I want are more *good* people in tech - people who are smart, can think well, can do the work, and are good to work with. Specifically targeting "underrepresented" groups for a specific career based solely on demographic reasons is absurd. Ability is what should metter, not what one has under the hood.
    • I think the only time I ever heard "girls can't do that..." is when I tried to pee standing up, so maybe I'm just lucky.

      I'd love to know the context in which that conversation took place.

      I mean, beyond "you were trying to pee standing up with someone else around."
    • by AeroIllini ( 726211 ) <aeroillini&gmail,com> on Friday January 27, 2006 @05:54PM (#14583518)
      ...fluffy orange velociraptors...

      Just like a woman to make her velociraptors fluffy and orange.


      In all seriousness, though, I agree with you. There is no need to push women (or men, for that matter) into various fields just because the percentages don't match the general population. However, I do think we need to focus our efforts in this country away from *discouraging* specific genders from entering certain fields. Girls should never be told that "girls can't do math," and boys should never be told "being a nurse is for sissies."

      That being said, the general population really does tend to sort itself into gender roles. Give a G.I. Joe action figure to a little girl, and she will likely dress it up and have a tea party. Give a Barbie to a little boy, and soon Major General Barbie will be unleashing the dinosaurs on Cobra's headquarters. In the absense of all discouragement, the percentage of women in technical fields would definitely be higher, but it would still not approach 50%, as most people who "encourage women to enter $FIELD" think it should be.
      • it would still not approach 50%,

        You sure? 30 years ago, could you have set the same thing about law school? Law school is now mostly women, though it was traditionally thought of as being a man's field. Bioengineering, at my school, was 50% women, though it was traditionally thought of as a male field. Computer Science, however, has a fewer women than it did 20 years ago. Parts of Asia have 50% women in computer science. It looks to me like you could have 50% women, or at least we can't tell right now

  • "it's boring" (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mewsenews ( 251487 )
    isn't part of the writer's job to make the show non-boring?
    • There's only so much they can do....if they are commisioned to write a documentary on paint drying, there's no amount of writing skill that will make that a program worth watching.

      If they actually made a show about the typical life of the scientist/engineer, it would go something like this:

      Monday: Wrote some code, ate lunch, went to the gym
      Tuesday: Wrote some code, went to a meeting, ate lunch, went home
      Wednesday: Wrote some cod...

      Or in the chem/bio field:

      Monday: Filled a test tube, did some tests
      Tuesday: L
      • That is sooo easy to fix! Make the main character not a lowly engineer, but one that has some management responsability. Say someone in a technical leadership position who actually cares about her/his team of engineers and who has to fight the upper brass to be allowed to do decent people management and to keep the shit out of the way. Someone who is aware of a lot of things going wrong, including something illegal if need be, but who is not in a position to do something about them directly and who therefor
  • TV's days are numbered. If your show doesn't get picked up by the dinosaur networks, give away the first couple episodes for free and sell the rest online.

    Or give them all away for free and get donations/grants. Or sell ads.

    That's the beauty of not living in a 1950's distribution model. You can be flexible.

    I don't have cable. I don't even own a TV anymore. But I do have all the battlestar galacticas. Including this season so far. Legit. I paid for them.

    You don't have to go with iTMS specifically, bu
  • To have more sex with nerds....

    That's something everyone can enjoy!

    Ok that was facetous.... but why are we trying to push them into areas they aren't interested in, as I've been a CIS major I've seen more and more female students.
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @05:18PM (#14583091) Journal
    "The Guiding Byte"
  • Boring? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phrackwulf ( 589741 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @05:18PM (#14583099)
    Apparently they don't know the lady engineers I know. Women are starting to dominate civil engineering and materials science even if it isn't obvious from surveys or industry literature. I can't speak for the mechanical engineers and stuff but this has been my experience.

    In my degree program, the materials science major was so small that girls either equalled or out-numbered the guys in terms of enrollment. And there is such a shortage of people to replace metallurgists and civil and environmental people that any male bias has been lost to expediency. We hire the ladies or we can't get personnel.

    The same is true for the military, the no women in combat rule has been OBE, overtaken by events. I think they've chosen a format that doesn't work for science. A soap opera is a stupid approach. My advice would be to do a show similar to the ER's and 24's. Have a female dominated accident re-construction team that goes in to analyze the results of major accidents, train de-railments, crane collapses, basic failure analysis. Is it a terror attack or not? Build on the premise and use good solid story telling. Science and engineering don't have to be boring. Soap opera's are boring,folks.
  • So what would happen if one of the geek faves, say, Mythbusters [discovery.com] was hosted by a man and a woman (cf. Scrapheap Challenge/Junkyard Wars [channel4.com]? Or by two women - say, Scottie and Cathy Rogers hosting, while Jamie and Adam do the dirty work.

    I suspect people would find the latter scary, and possibly dangerous. Like what happened when they made a movie about two women [imdb.com] shooting their way across the west.


  • by argoff ( 142580 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @05:25PM (#14583192)
    I think the problem here isn't more women in tech - it is a liberal hatred of men and women. They try to make men act more feminine, and try to make women act more masculine rather than just accepting that men and women are different, should be different, and complement each other rather than compete with each other. IMHO, there are too many political interests that absolutely hate that because it leads to a stable family system, and that leads to less dependence on welfare, public freebies, and government programs.
  • Trying to encourage mostly-grown women to go into technology fields is pointless because they've already got at least two decades of accumulated discouragement built up. You have to start at birth to have any real effect.

    Young girls are constantly subjected in our society to advertisements, television shows, movies, video games, peer pressure, and stereotypes that all give them the idea that socializing, procreating, and "having fun" are the only things they should concern themselves with. That's why most
  • Star Trek (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Isn't Star Trek really a science soap opera? I know i'm usually pissed about the lack as ass kicking and the prevalance of "talking things over". Women tend to have "role-model" positions?

    Oh and it was cancelled too.
  • by techno-vampire ( 666512 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @05:32PM (#14583258) Homepage
    There's a reason this idea tanked that nobody's commented on as yet: no villans. As the article points out, soap operas thrive on constant conflict and some of the most memorable characters over the years have been vilans. If you ask the average person to name a character from Dallas, the odds are that the first name mentioned is JR.
  • PAWS (Score:4, Funny)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) * on Friday January 27, 2006 @05:35PM (#14583304)
    Here's a hint for the producers - you should probably not tie any media targeted at women with "dogs" of any sort at the metaphorical level.

    It is OK to have dogs in the shows themselves as long as they are either very tiny Doglings, or very large Doggoliths.
  • by ValentineMSmith ( 670074 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @05:42PM (#14583403)
    Enrique (turning away from Jill): I saw you last night... In the server room.

    Jill (face flushing): But I couldn't resist.. It was one of the new quad Opteron machines!

    Enrique: So, you're saying you're only staying with me for the servers???

    Jill: Please, Enrique. Can you forgive me? (general tears break out)

    Tune in next week when Jill finds a new use for the neon tubes in Gary's gaming machine.

    Nope.. Somehow, I think that this is just one of those things from which nothing good can come.

  • by Doc Ido ( 241430 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @05:54PM (#14583513)
    I read the headline as "SOAP Opera for Luring Women" and was trying to figure out what the heck some programmer was doing with XML messaging and an Internet browser to stalk women.
  • by stlhawkeye ( 868951 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @05:57PM (#14583534) Homepage Journal
    Why do we need more women in these careers? I wish people would quit trying to find ways to "fix" the "problem" of there being too few women in computers and the sciences. People who want to do this stuff will do it. To think that modern girls are incapable of making that decision for themselves and need soap opera role models to encourage them is a slap in the face to strong, independent women everywhere. Should we fix up some scientist Barbies? How about lipstick with its own chemical formula on the side? Do titration mounts need to start coming in pink? Lab coats need "Hello Kitty" on the back? Seriously. Do we want people whose direction in life is so easily influenced by a soap opera to be the next generation of great minds in the sciences?

    And where is all the interest in increasing male participation in primary education?

    • Not to nitpick, but how many engineers say that they were influence to study engineering because of Scotty from Star Trek?

      The issue isn't that rolemodels shouldn't be important, its that you should choose your role model wisely.
    • Yeah, and why do we need Negros in these careers? For that matter, why do we need women or Negros in any high-paying careers? Is this really something we need to "fix"? If they wanted to do this stuff, they would. Are "civil rights" proponents saying modern Negros are incapable of making that decision for themselves? Do we need lab coats in traditional African colors? How about fried chicken with its own chemical formula on the side? Seriously. Do we want people whose direction in life is so easily
  • Frontal nudity. Okay?
  • by i love pineapples ( 742841 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @06:01PM (#14583581) Homepage
    Here's an idea. Instead of targeting women, why not target the public in general? I'm a nerdy chick (info. assurance,) and I've met many men and women alike who still think being into "nerdy" things means you fall into the typical negative nerd stereotype. Try showing ALL people that scientists, mathematicians, and engineers don't all sit in their parents' basements eating doritos and obsessing over their interest to the point of having no social life.

    Perhaps the gender ratio would be more balanced if the population in general believed that a person can be a techie and still be "cool".
  • Science soap == boring???

    Does the guy have any clue? I work in scientific research (have done so for 17 years now), and while the topic of what we do in terms of science certainly is boring to Jane & Joe Sixpack, let me tell you that there is literally tons of material in this organisation to create a sucessfull soap series with. Compared to Dallas, the only thing that we don't have readily available is execs as rich as the Ewings. But all the rest we have right here. Corruption, love affairs, hate ca

  • "People say, why don't you do a science soap. My reply is that no-one will commission it, because it's boring.'"

    Yes, it's boring. Like the medical field is boring and repetitive. Or law. Or police work. Or lab work. Or politics. Or the military. But they make successful shows about those careers.

    The reality is that most real-life jobs are boring and repetitive - that's why it's called work. However, TV and movie producers have always been able to "spice up" any occupation and make it compelling

  • As another poster has mentioned, it's pretty lame to think that gals will just see "ooh! pretty role model! Me do too!" (although guys are pretty susceptible to "Arnie does it, so can I!" logic) and that gals so easily influenced would make your prime candidates for nuclear physics.

    A more reasonable goal would be to just get people in general used to the idea of seeing females in a wide variety of technical, scientific and medical roles.

  • Would this show just turn into an hour-long browbeat, like so much other gender-politics crap on the boob tube ("Commander in Chief", "Book of Daniel")? Only, in this case, the intended audience would be a lot narrower, so it'll tank before instead of after its first episode.
  • If I were a woman... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Friday January 27, 2006 @06:50PM (#14584043) Journal
    I'd be humiliated by someone trying to "lure" me into technology by generalizing me to watch soap operas so it'd be believed to be "efficient" in reaching women. :-p As a man, put yourself in the situation of TV trying to lure you into nursery via Star Trek (it's what a whole lot of guys watch, right? duuhh... :-p).

    Why is there even a need to "lure" a gender somewhere?

    I think they rather need to make the tech educations more interesting for women (that is: for the general public) in their material used to present the educations with. More information not strictly aimed to those already introduced in the field, but offer some place for them to start, preferrably then in specially organized heterogenous groups of genders so they don't feel like a sole guy in what may otherwise be seen as a "girl job". We had such classes at my university when I studied there, and it was a pretty big hit then, in ~ 1998-2000. Not sure how it went afterwards though, as I stopped keeping track of my former school when I was done with it. :-)

    I think part of the problem is that some feel like "outsiders" and may also feel out of place with lots of self-learned guys from earlier getting kickstarted into the education.

    And as for the why, I'd definitely like to see more women in the tech field, not (just :-)) for "childish" reasons, but because in the rare circumstances I've worked in more heterogenous situations, I've felt the group has got a bit better dynamics and more varied viewpoints. Maybe it's imagination, but I overall enjoy more working not only with women, but in more mixed teams.
  • I've been working on a feture length film, "Best Served Cold" about three women getting revenge on the men that have let them down. I have had a horrible time getting funding from any of the traditional sources, just because the lead character is plus sized. I've had to resort to fund-raising by asking around.

    The challenge is that the industry views films as padding between advertising, and special audiences just don't sell advertising. They think of women as a special audience. :/

    So, bottom line, if you wo
  • DUH! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by queenb**ch ( 446380 ) on Saturday January 28, 2006 @12:13AM (#14586234) Homepage Journal
    First off, any girl who likes math and science isn't likely to be watching a soap opera. I clearly recall my high school years and none of us was ever a "soap ho". In fact, we made fun of the "soap hos". Once you come to the realization that there's more to life than hairspray, make-up, and "who likes who", soaps just aren't all that interesting. I've heard a lot of people say "Oh, they're just like real life." The doublecrosses, the extravagant lifestyles, the amnesia, the tragic diseases...and that's just from one week. I have to tell you that I'd be so worn out from the plotting and deception that I'd probably welcome death from the tragic disease just to get me out of the grind.

    2 cents,

    Queen B

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