Steminism Sunday: Dr. Ellie Sattler

Welcome to a new occasional series here on ye olde blog! As a former woman in science, I have a deep and enduring interest in the experiences and representation of women in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math). This series will be a opportunity for me – and you – to get to know some of these intellectual badasses.

To kick us off, paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler. Yes, yes, I know. Ellie Sattler is not an actual person: she’s a fictional character from the book and movie Jurassic Park. But Jurassic Park launched one of the most profitable film franchises of all time, so Sattler’s character has likely influenced the way millions of people think about female scientists. Fortunately, Sattler is AWESOME:

  • she’s an expert in her field who has earned the respect of her colleagues
  • she sees things other people don’t – like the cause of a triceratops’s illness
  • she’s a good problem solver, determined to find solutions
  • she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty, digging up dinosaur bones and digging into dinosaur poop

Most importantly, she stands up for herself and for others, voicing her opinions and taking action, even when there’s a risk of being eaten:

Hammond: It really ought to be me going.

Sattler: Why?

Hammond: Well, I’m a… and you’re, um, a…

Sattler: Look, we can discuss sexism in survival situations when I get back.

Jurassic Park (1993)

I also love the way she uses her sense of humour to remind people that she’s worthy of respect:

Malcolm: God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Many creates dinosaurs.

Sattler: Dinosaur eats man… Woman inherits the earth.

Jurassic Park (1993)

In summary, she’s not just my favourite character in Jurassic Park, she’s probably my favourite female scientist in all of film.

What do you think? Suggestions for future Steminism Sunday posts are welcome, too.

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