Emmy Noether (1882-1935)  German mathematician known for her landmark contributions to abstract algebra and theoretical physics.

Bear with me. Only two more Thursdays after this one, in Women’s History Month.

Today, I’m going to resurrect an anti Women’s History blog, or at least an anti Women in STEM blog, featuring the otherwise wonderful Angelina Jolie.

The movie was a long time ago — “Salt,” 2010. I’d like to think this scene would have a different ending today. Here it is:

A great action scene: Evelyn Salt (Jolie) is on the run from the bad guys. She’s crawling along the side of a building, several stories up, holding on for dear life. In her backpack is an adorable little dog. She slips, she recovers, she enters a window and crashes into a room where a little girl is doing her homework. She asks the little girl to take care of her dog.

What a heroine! The little girl is in awe of this wonder woman. Salt has only a few moments to spare for the child, who tells Salt that she’s having trouble with her math homework. The little girl looks at Salt adoringly, waiting for a word. We know she’ll remember the next words for the rest of her life. What an  opportunity for Salt.

What message does Salt leave the little girl with? I held my own breath, waiting.

“I hate math,” Salt says.

What? Not “Let me show you. Math is fun.” or “Do your math and you’ll be like me when you grow up.” Not cool, apparently.

It’s not just Angelina. How many times have you heard the same thing — “I hate math” or “I hate physics” from the mouths of movie and TV stars?  Did every screenwriter in Hollywood flunk algebra? Is this the revenge of the C student as many physicists cried out when the Superconducting Supercollider was scrapped by Congress?

Maybe we need an I Love STEM postcard campaign.


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One Response to “I Love STEM”

  1. Gail Wood says:

    Exactly! That’s how I felt in that movie too!

    I love STEM even though I’m really trained in the humanities. I love science. My mother, who was a chemist, told me that I was excelling in math until the second grade where the teacher instilled in the girls that math was too hard for them. Sheeh. Now I’m a quilter (geometry) and a budget manager (math) and use a lot of statistics. I work in academia so I meet scientists of all sorts. I work in the library and we run the computer applications program (technology, web-based technology, and applied mathematics) I love STEM. I consider myself the auxiliary and cheerleader.

    The reason I’m responding is your comment about postcards. I understand there’s going to be a scientists march on April 22. https://www.marchforscience.com/

    There’s a lot for women to unlearn so we can instill in our girls that they can love science too.