Repository logo

Who makes AI? Gender and portrayals of AI scientists in popular film, 1920-2020.

Published version

Repository DOI

Change log


It is well established both that women are underrepresented in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) and that media representations of professions have impact on career choices and prospects. We therefore hypothesised that women are underrepresented in portrayals of AI researchers in influential films. We tested this by analysing a corpus of the 142 most influential films featuring AI from 1920 to 2020, of which 86 showed one or more AI researchers, totalling 116 individuals. We found that nine AI professionals in film were women (8%). We further found that none of the 142 AI films was solely directed by a woman. We discuss a number of explanations for the paucity of women AI scientists in the media, including parallels between film and real-life gender inequality, the construction of the AI scientist as male through gendered narrative tropes, and the lack of female directors.


Peer reviewed: True


artificial intelligence, gender and science, media representations, science and popular culture, women in STEM, Humans, Male, Female, Artificial Intelligence, Motion Pictures, Physicians, Narration

Journal Title

Public Underst Sci

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title



SAGE Publications
Leverhulme Trust (RC-2015-067)
Stephen Cave and Kanta Dihal are funded by the Leverhulme Trust (via grant number RC-2015-067 to the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence) and Stiftung Mercator. Kanta Dihal is additionally funded through the support of grants from DeepMind Ethics & Society and Templeton World Charity Foundation, Inc. Eleanor Drage and Kerry Mackereth are funded by Christina Gaw as part of the Gender and Technology project at the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies.