Why Aren’t There More Brainy Heroines In Sci-Fi?

Guest post by sci-fi author Mary Fan

That’s a question that’s been bugging me since I was the nerdy girl with the giant chemistry textbook and the Science Olympiad trophy. Oh, there are tech-y girls in sci-fi, but they’re either quirky sidekicks, impossibly sexy love interests, or blink-and-you-miss-them cameo figures.

Meanwhile, in the real world, women comprise only 26 percent of workers in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). With the overall workforce split pretty much 50/50 between men and women, that percentage should be a lot higher.

Lingering gender stereotypes mean that girls don’t have many tech-savvy role models in fiction to look up to. The only one I can think of at the moment is Cinder, a fearless 16-year-old mechanic, from the Lunar Chronicles. And even she is insecure about her job and only took it because the wicked stepmother figure in this Cinderella retelling made her. I guess we have Kaylee from the television show “Firefly” and Skye from “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” but even they’re relegated to sidekick roles next to the shows’ central heroes.

While I’m sure there are examples out there of young women in the STEM fields starring in sci-fi tales, the fact remains that many more are still shunted to the side. Which is why I’m partnering with fellow sci-fi author Paige Daniels (of the Non-Compliance cyberpunk trilogy) to help change that. We’re putting together an anthology of YA sci-fi tales starring girls with a knack for the STEM subjects—programmers, mechanics, scientists, and more—called Brave New Girls. All revenues from this anthology will be donated to a Society of Women Engineers scholarship fund, which helps girls seeking to go into the STEM fields get the education they need.

Paige and I, in addition to contributing stories of our own, will be indie publishing the anthology, with the goal of getting it out in summer 2015. We’re running a Kickstarter this summer to raise money for professional editing, formatting, and artwork. And we’re currently looking for submissions, so if this sounds like something you or someone you know have written or are interested in writing about, check out our website: http://bravenewgirls.weebly.com. Submissions are open until November 15.

Since we’re donating the money from sales, we can’t offer payment, but we will be sending each author whose story is selected a paperback copy. And, of course, our gratitude. The two of us will be contributing stories of our own, and mine will feature the titular heroine from my Jane Colt space opera/cyberpunk series as a teenager.

Though the world has come a long way since the days when women were told math would harm their mental health, we’ve still got a ways to go. This one little anthology won’t change the world, but it’s a start.

To learn more about Brave New Girls, check out the official website.

To find out more about Mary Fan and her work,check out her official website, like her Facebook page, or follow her on Twitter @AstralColt.

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