From an episode of The Big Bang Theory…
Bernadette is being featured as one of the sexiest scientists in California by a fashion magazine. Amy criticises it because it highlights Bernadette’s looks not her scientific achievements. Penny defends it with something on the lines of…
… if fashion magazines highlighted female scientists, I might have become a theoretical physicist.
Amy and Bernadette’s smirks suggest that this may just be a joke in the series. But this statement is practical marketing1.
Marketers know to advertise where their audience hangs out, not where other marketers hang out. Featuring women in science magazines is an example of the latter—useful for career advancement of women already in science, but not useful for outreach to new audiences.
To encourage more women into science, we should be featuring more women scientists, more often in magazines that non-science women read. If women prefer reading fashion mags then that’s where more women in science (or business or tech or sports or politics) need to be featured.
Penny doesn’t need to be a scientist. She’s got a higher EQ and more social skills than rest of the gang combined. Her dialogue above just goes to highlight the value of her social insights.
While others struggle with their research, she could easily rise to be a CEO of the company that funds their research :) ↩