“Just because something works doesn’t mean it can’t be improved”:
huri in The Black Panther just got millions of girls into STEM*.

* Science-Technnology-Engineering-Math

I just saw the movie "Black Panther" this weekend. Just like everyone has testified, it’s a fantastic movie. But the very best thing of all about this movie was Shuri - the young sister of the protagonist King T´Challa (The Black Panther.) 

What Shuri did - just by being her - was nothing less than to inspire literally millions and millions of young girls around the world into thinking that they too can be just like her.

And why does that matter? 

It matters because what Shuri just might have accomplished is to inspire an entire generation of girls to think: I too can become a scientist. I too can become a genius in technology and IT. I too can become an inventor. I too could feasibly be the smartest person in my neighborhood. I too can also develop methods to heal people. I too can change the world.

And that – my friends, is what the world needs. More young girls who get to see female role models who can get them interested in fields like science, tech, engineering, and math. How often do boys not get to see role models, either of young boys or elderly men, in those roles – compared to how seldom girls do... And then we wonder why not more girls take an interest in STEM-fields…

Who knows what this mistake may cost us – collectively, here on our planet Earth? Do you know that the smartest girl in the world today, is an Indian girl who at the age of 14 measured an IQ almost double to that of Einstein. How many girls like that do we “miss”?  

So, what role can media play to show better role models for young girls?  Media that today too often spread the general idea that girls and women are valued mostly for their looks, or their ability to attract a man. Media where women and girls above all else are portrayed as girlfriends or wives, who talk about the male protagonists in the movie. Or worse, media where women are often shown as half-naked objectified victims of sexual violence, rapes, and murders in shows where the real stars and subjects are the men (wearing clothes!)

This type of media, which is the norm today, does not do the world any good – for any of us and this is why we all need to demand better media.

This has nothing to do with “let´s be nice to the women, shall we” – it is much bigger than that. This concerns us all, and will make life better for everybody - men and boys included, who too often also are portrayed into gender stereotypical norms of hypermasculinity.

More representative and inclusive media, by default, means better media as it becomes more interesting, showing more perspectives, more voices, more angles, and more stories being told.

But reaching this paradigm shift and change requires more than talk. It requires equal financing for women´s projects, and equal access. This includes not only for women – but also for pretty much everyone who is non-white.

To get there, we need a more educated media industry – an industry that no longer settles for the old way of doing things. Because once the wheels of change are in motion, and the change has already begun - we will soon all see that there is a better way of doing things. Soon audiences and markets will no longer settle for anything but what TakeTwo has to offer. It is also a matter of profitability and staying relevant.

All this – is what I saw in Shuri´s character this Sunday. Her pure being radiated the message to all young girls out there: You too can be a young girl whose main interest is not to be the love interest of a man, but to be you. You too can become a scientist, and at the same time also be fun-loving, cool, and witty. Shuri shows us that girls too can have it all. And not needing to make excuses for it.

As one single character in one single movie – Shuri will probably single-handedly do more for getting girls into STEM, Science-Technnology-Engineering-Math, than most such publically funded initiatives can accomplish, even with multi-million-dollar-campaigns.

That is just how powerful media is. And that is just one example as to how important it is to get more representation into the media industry.

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Viktoria Saxby, Co-founder of TakeTwo

Viktoria Saxby