When I was a little girl, Star Trek was the first place I remember seeing women, POC, and people with disabilities represented in a science and engineering environment. Not only were they in there, — They were engineering chiefs. They were heads of security. They were science officers. They were skilled and bad ass and the captain depended on them. As a little girl with an engineering mind, it meant a lot to me. As a little girl who looked up to her father and his job as an engineer, but whenever she met her father’s co-workers only encountered men who asked if she liked pink and dollies and drawing — men who treated it as a fluke that I liked things like Star Trek and said that I would “grow out of it”, especially “once I discovered boys”. I needed Star Trek and it’s representation and my father’s encouragement that it was okay to be a girl to like those things. I grew up in a NASA and government contracting town, and I wanted to work on those sorts of things.
When I went to college and dealt with regular accusations from classmates that I was only getting better grades than them because the professor or TA was giving me slack for being female, that I was only in the major to get my M-R-S degree and would drop out to a “lazy” liberal arts major as soon as I landed a man who could support me with his engineering degree (accusations that continued through my senior year of college). I needed Star Trek’s representation. And right before I started college, Star Trek gave me a woman captaining the Enterprise (bless Voyager).
A couple of decades after my first experience with Star Trek, I’m a woman engineer working in the defense industry. I’m proud of that.
Star Trek will always hold a special place in my heart, and yes, I get up in arms about representation in Star Trek especially, because it mattered a lot to me as a child, and it was a huge part of that show. I’m sure it matters even more to people who have bigger disadvantages in the industry than I.