As the time since I’ve been in college continues to grow, I continue to be more and more impressed by the accomplishments and variety of things my classmates and friends have done and been part of. One of the latest is my AXO sorority sister Alison Wong competing as one of 10 engineers on the Big Brain Theory, a reality show on Discovery that uses design, build and test challenges to find the ‘biggest brain’.
I’ve now watched through the third episode, in which the two women in the show (including Alison) are team leaders. While I do realize this is a reality TV show, and that they are looking for things that make good entertainment (including focusing on ‘characters’ who are more dramatic and polarizing), there were quite a few things in the episodes to date that bugged me about the roles and interactions of men and women.
- The female engineer is delegated the most basic, more administrative tasks.
- Guys who think they and their ideas are the best, that the way to get things done is by being ‘an ass kicker’, and that by speaking the loudest/most they are seen as being in charge.
- Women who focus on getting ideas from everyone, as well as building consensus, and this is seen as being weak by others in the team.
- The guys not being willing to listen to the women or let them do the task.
I think it’s a bummer if these are the real, normal behaviors of people on the show, and it’s also a bummer if they were in the minority, but the writers and producers of the show feel that they represent the norm, and that’s what they want to focus on. It is great to have both Alison and Amy on the show, and I do believe seeing female engineers in action will help other females realize that they too can become engineers. But – continuing the male/female stereotypes is a disappointment.