Marvel Launches Program For Young Female Scientists In Anticipation Of The New ‘Captain America’ Film

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This isn’t the first time we have seen Marvel capitalize on the female STEM characters they are portraying in their blockbuster movies and turning it into an excuse to encourage young girls to become interested in STEM subjects. In the past they have teamed up with Natalie Portman, who played scientist Jane Foster in both ‘Thor’ and the National Academy of Sciences to run a competition where girls in the US had the chance to meet some real life scientific community heroes and be inspired to launch their own STEM careers.

When ‘Ant-Man’ was released in 2015, they teamed up with Evangeline Lilly, who played scientist Hope Van Dyne, for a similar initiative. It shows that the studio is keenly aware of the growing movement to engage young girls to fill the gender gap that exists in STEM industries today. Marvel is in a prime position to leverage the popularity of some of its female characters in a way that has a positive effect in the world.

Data shows that women are earning certain STEM degrees at the same rate as men, and in some industries like biological science and chemistry, the equity is starting to become apparent. The gap becomes more prevalent in the computer sciences and environmental sciences.

In an op-ed for Fortune.com, CMO of Accenture Roxanne Taylor says the key to closing the gap is focusing on the next generation.

“There are just not enough women graduating with the science, technology, engineering and math skills needed to become the next generation of leaders. Thirty years ago, about 37% of computer science degrees in the U.S. went to women. Today that number has dropped to 18%. Clearly, we are going in the wrong direction,” she said.

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“One way we can help tackle this issue is by focusing as early as possible in the education cycle. We need to get young women excited about math, science and technology, including computer science, long before they enter college,” she added.

In anticipation of ‘Captain America: Civil War’ being released across the country in May, Marvel have enlisted the help of two of the film’s stars Emily VanCamp and Elizabeth Olsen. The studio has partnered with the National Academy of Sciences’ Science & Entertainment Exchange to launch the ‘Girls Reforming the Future’ Challenge.

The opportunity is open to US-based girls only between the ages of 15 and 18 (grades 10-12) who are interested in using science and technology to make the world a better place in the future. Girls are being asked to submit a video explaining how her science and technology-based project could make the world a better place, and a panel of experts will choose 5 finalists to travel to Los Angeles to see a screening of the movie, tour the Walt Disney Studios lot, and receive a $500 prize. One girl will b chosen for the grand prize, which is an internship with Marvel Studios.

Emily VanCamp plays Sharon Carter, Agent 13, in the film, and Elizabeth Olsen plays Scarlet Witch in the film. In a promo video for the competition, both actresses talk about the opportunity for girls in parallel with the film’s story.

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“In ‘Captain America: Civil War’, each hero is forced to take a stand and choose a side in their fight to reform the future. Although they become divided, they remain united by the same goals: the commitment to safeguard humanity, protect the earth at all costs, and make the world a better place for future generations,” said Elizabeth. Each applicants entry can be as complicated or as simple as they wish.

If you’re reading between the lines, it seems Marvel are also helping spread the idea that unless we do something to safeguard our actual planet (as opposed to the fictional Avengers universe) and act on Climate Change policies, we really WILL be in trouble in the future.

Given there is so much misinformation being spread about the effects of fossil fuels on our planet, despite overwhelming evidence from the broader scientific community showing the man-made effects of climate change, the fact that people are willing to deny it all costs to protect real life evil interests (fossil fuel industries, lobby groups, corporations, and the politicians who do their bidding to prevent policies to save our earth from being signed into law) is something that could be drawn from the ‘Captain America’ plot and what the Avengers are trying to save.

If you want your daughter to grow up in a world led by science, not rhetoric, we encourage you to apply for this program. If not, there are numerous ways to engage younger generations to understand why taking care of the environment is so important. Going to a screening of ‘Captain America: Civil War’ could even be a great way to inspire a girl to take on a STEM industry career to be a valuable part of making a difference.


 

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