Girls Just Wanna be Smart? The Depiction of Women Scientists in Contemporary Crime Fiction

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Portrayals of fictional scientists influence how the public perceive real scientists, and fictional scientists might serve as role models as well as inspire career choices. Crime fiction is probably the most popular fiction genre today, and fictional scientists are an important presence in the genre. This is an exploratory study of three well-known contemporary women crime fiction scientists, taken from literature, television, and film. The examples are compared and contrasted with previous studies of women scientists in fiction, as well as, more specifically, studies of women investigators in crime fiction. The women scientists in the samples are found to be skilled experts in their fields, appreciated and respected by their peers, and making essential contributions to the solving of crimes. Nevertheless, they are simultaneously treated like children, as well as objects of sexual desire, by their co-workers, and most likely also perceived that way by the actual consumers, the viewers and readers of this fiction. Although these fictional women scientists might be ideal role models in many senses, their infantilization and sexualization signifies that the world of science is still far from gender equal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-329
JournalInternational Journal of Gender, Science and Technology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Languages and Literature


  • science
  • crime fiction
  • women scientists
  • NCIS
  • gender issues
  • infantilization
  • sexualization
  • role model
  • Abby Sciuto
  • Kathy Reichs
  • Devil Bones
  • Temperance Brennan
  • The World is Not Enough
  • Christmas Jones


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