New docuseries flips the scientific script on gender stereotypes.
Beyond the Boundary is a documentary series about women who are conducting groundbreaking and glass-ceiling-shattering scientific inquiry. Stories of scientific and technological progress often exclude female contributions. The show is currently in pre-production and slated to premiere in Spring 2017.
We know Sally Ride was the first female American astronaut, and Marie Curie was the first female Nobel winning scientist but we’d be hard-pressed to find information on their technical discoveries. Instead we’re supposed to be enamored by the idea: Wow! A woman in science! To combat this sexist stereotype that a woman who is good at science is some sort of mythical unicorn or magical anachronism, Beyond the Boundary shares the stories of female scientific champions, whose discoveries and innovations are advancing our understanding of the universe and paving the way for technological and social progress.
Beyond the Boundary is a 22-minute docuseries in the vein of Cosmos with Neil DeGrasse Tyson (formerly Carl Sagan) or the Big Picture with Kal Penn, only instead of featuring a male host and male scientists, the show features two female hosts, Jenn Halweil and Jayde Lovell, and all female scientists who are world-renowned in their fields.
At a time, when gender politics are at the forefront of the national media dialogue, content that showcases women exceling in fields where they are traditionally underrepresented is vital. According to a recent Washington Post article:
“When President Obama took office, two thirds of his top staffers were men… So female staffers adopted a meeting strategy they called “amplification”: When a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it, giving credit to its author. This forced the men in the room to recognize the contribution — and denied them the chance to claim the idea as their own.”
This strategy isn’t just for women in the White House. Amplification is used in genetics, electronic design, and to bolster women in STEM. By showcasing a diverse group of top tier female scientists, Beyond the Boundary amplifies female representation in these fields. Beyond the Boundary features the works of Katherine Freese, Sara Seager, Tabetha Boyajian, and Katrin Amunts, who are doing ground breaking work in dark matter, discovering exoplanets that could host life, and 3D mapping the human brain.
In addition, Beyond the Boundary explores the historical contributions of female scientific predecessors. In the words of Executive Producer, Jenn Halweil:
“Without the contributions of folks like Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, Katherine Johnson, and countless others, space travel might not be presently possible. And while people know Hedy Lamarr as a pretty-faced, young actress, it was actually her groundbreaking scientific research that became the basis for all modern GPS, Bluetooth, and WIFI signal-hopping devices. As storytellers our job is to offer images that combat stereotypes, generate new archetypes, and provide role models for future generations. Our goal with this documentary is to spark mainstream dialogue that demonstrates the essential role that women are playing to change the world through technological and scientific progress.”
At a time when women are working harder than ever to prove their professional competence to achieve gender parity in arenas such as politics (e.g. Hillary Clinton) and business (e.g. Sheryl Sandberg with Lean In), it is important that we do not overlook areas where women have made the least gains. Sadly, this includes STEM fields. Beyond the Boundary flips the script on hundreds of years of pseudoscientific gender stereotypes that posit women are not capable of being champions for scientific discovery.
For more information on Beyond the Boundary and the women featured, folks can sign up for their newsletter at http://JennHalweil.com/beyondtheboundary
About the Creators:
Executive Producer, Jenn Halweil
A former electrical engineer, who worked for the Department of Energy in their alternative fuel FreedomCar division, as well as Progress Energy in their distribution and renewable divisions, Jenn co-founded her first company in college. Legacy Event Planners was awarded the City of Raleigh's Community Service Award in 2010, for her work organizing a 20,000-person eco-festival. After recognizing that most technical businesses struggle to engage their audience through compelling brand stories, she launched her consultancy, to help socially responsible businesses craft their storytelling narrative through video and social media content. Jenn has produced several short films and documentary projects, one of which won Best Editing as part of Campus MovieFest at Warner Brother's studios in LA, and another that recently screened at Cannes in 2016. Most recently, she was accepted into Youtube's Co flipping the script on hundreds of years of pseudoscientific gender stereotypes that posit women are not as good at math and science. Content Creator Bootcamp in NYC.
Associate Producer, Jayde Lovell (The Young Turks Channel)
Jayde is CEO of Regency Media and host of ScIQ, the science channel on the Young Turks Network (with ~4M subscribers). Jayde has been passionate about science communication since ‘enduring’ her undergraduate degree in neuroscience. After four years of “boring” lectures that “sucked the fun out of neuroscience”, she vowed to make the field more interesting and accessible – especially to the general public. In 2014 she left her role as Vice President of the world’s largest PR agency with a vision to work exclusively with science clients. Her client list includes the National Academy of Engineering, NASA, the National Association of Science Writers, and Nike."
Associate Producer, Hallie Jordan
As a kid, Hallie Jordan begged her parents to send her to Nickelodeon’s space camp. Instead, they sent her to theater camp. The daughter of a telecommunications engineer, and granddaughter of an RKO publicist, one could say that the two would eventually come together. In college, Hallie developed a personalized degree that she titled “The Ontology of Performance,” combining psychology, sociology, and philosophy through a media lens. Hallie founded her first production company and online magazine in college after working with various agents, casting directors, and production companies, studying performance and culture all over the world. She later went on to produce and co-produce on several feature films and TV pilots.