Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication (MA)

Degree Level





Ryan Neville-Shepard

Committee Member

Lauren Decarvalho

Second Committee Member

Stephanie Schulte


Feminist Media Studies, Girl Culture, Girl's Media, Neoliberalism, STEM, Traditional Gender Roles


This thesis provides a critical feminist analysis of girl branded media depictions of girls in STEM. Through close textual analysis of three case studies—Disney Fairies films, Barbie: Dreamhouse Adventures, and My Little Pony: Equestria Girls media—I found that such STEM promotion tends to emphasize traditional gender roles and neoliberal market values. Disney Fairies films promote traditional gender roles via portrayals of play STEM, white hegemony, and western beauty standards. Additionally, these films promote the neoliberal ideal of industrialization as consequence free. Dreamhouse Adventures depicts STEM in relation to traditional gender norms such as caretaking, heteronormativity, and girl culture. Furthermore, this show normalizes neoliberal market values such as surveillance, consumerism and entrepreneurship. Equestria Girls relates traditional gender roles and STEM in terms of feminized STEM portrayals, depicting girls in STEM as dangerous, and portraying pretend science that has no basis in reality. Ultimately, I argue that these two main themes contribute to the structure of the leaky pipeline, which serves as a central metaphor for the absence of women and minorities in STEM fields. Finally, I explore the implications of these themes, potential drawbacks of the leaky pipeline metaphor, and future possibilities for the promotion of girls in STEM.