Student Report on Picture a Scientist Screening and Discussion

Reported by Lia Smith, Class of 2026

The screening and discussion of Picture a Scientist was the first Gender Studies Initiative event of the Fall 2023 semester. Picture a Scientist is a powerful documentary that illustrates challenges faced by women scientists in the U.S. Women scientists in various fields such as biology, chemistry, and geology discuss their daily encounters of harassment, both big and small. These encounters can range from degradation and bullying from mentors, failing to get the same-sized office compared to their male collogues, and seemingly minor but constant harassment at work. This documentary also reveals the intersectionalities that are at play with gender to further marginalize women of color and women of older age in the field.

Following the film screening, there was an open discussion with a great panel led by Professors Selina Lai-Henderson, Renee Richer and Chen Zhang. Students and faculty reflected upon the themes of the film and discussed how to translate the themes and issues into our own lives. Panelists shared their own experiences and reflections on the film before opening the floor to audience questions. Further topics discussed included how the material in the film translates to non-U.S. contexts, how to grapple with cultural differences and misunderstandings that could potentially arise in a multicultural environment like DKU, and how to react to both ‘big’ and ‘small’ forms of harassment. At the end administrators explained DKU’s discrimination policy and what students’ options are if they encounter such situations during their time at DKU.