Comic series sets out to inspire new generation of female scientists

A new Marvel comics series features interviews with real world scientists in an attempt to inspire a new generation of female science, technology, engineering and maths experts

Women who work as scientists, engineers and maths and technology experts will see their stories brought to life as part of a series by Marvel Comics. The US-based comics giant hopes to promote so-called STEM subjects to a new generation of girls by featuring female professionals in the letters page of its series, The Unstoppable Wasp, as well as online at www.marvel.com

The series, put together by writer Jeremy Whitley and artist Elsa Charretier, features a central character called Nadia Pym. Pym is a teen ‘super scientist’ who spent the first half of her life captive in a Soviet training facility. ‘For the first time ever, this teenage super-scientist is on her own and she’s ready to spread her size-changing wings!’ reads The Unstoppable Wasp’s tagline.

The first issue of Marvel’s The Unstoppable Wasp. Image: Marvel

“I have to credit artist Elsa with the original idea,” says Whitley of the profiles. “I had been kicking around that I wanted to do some outreach to STEM and women in science and she came up with an idea. She would draw headshots and we’d do a little profile on female scientists.”

He noted that the idea of celebrating science and innovation fits perfectly with Pym’s character and the sense of curiosity and innovation that runs through the series.

“It made perfect sense to us to highlight female scientists who really are shaping our future. We already knew several women who fit this description and were comics readers, so the idea of sharing their work with the rest of our audience seemed like something that had to happen. We look forward to learning about more amazing comics-loving lady scientists as we open up to submissions and hopefully a few of our younger readers may even find something that interests them as well as the expert that they can ask about it.”

It made perfect sense to us to highlight female scientists who really are shaping our future

The first in the series, released earlier this month, featured Rachel Silverstein, a paleontologist who studies the fossils of extinct elephants, and Marina Chanidou, a UK-based PhD student of analytical chemistry.

“Right now I analyse food samples, but my goal is to apply my method to archaeological remains and test them for residues of different foodstuffs,” reads her interview within the comic.

“Not all paleontologists study dinosaurs!” notes Rachel in hers. “Of course, they’re cool and all, but Ice Age megafauna (large mammals) are what do it for me.”

When asked why she would encourage young women to get into science, Rachel answered: “Because they want to! Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t be a scientist, regardless of what science you want to pursue. I’ve found female scientists to be the most supportive human beings on the planet. Even if what you do is a hobby, that doesn’t make you less of a scientist. Remember that, ladies!”

Visit Marvel’s page here to find out more

Images: Marvel

Read our feature, Redrawing the line, about how comics are increasingly experimenting with diverse and positive portrayals of characters 


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