Move over, Sherlock Holmes – the girl geniuses have arrived. These days, some of the smartest characters from kids’ movies, TV shows, and books are female. And with research – published in 2017! – indicating that girls start underestimating their own intelligence by the age of 6, it’s clear that brainy media role models matter. A lot.
Despite high-IQ heroines such as Princess Leia and Lisa Simpson, female characters are overwhelmingly focused on looks and appearance and often more concerned with love and romance than academic or career goals. Studies have demonstrated the significant ways that TV, movies, and other media influence body image and gender stereotypes, as do the high percentage of hypersexualized female characters in kids’ media — even in cartoons. Thankfully, though, there are so many awesome female characters out there charting a new path.
We’ve compiled this list of some of the brightest and brainiest female characters from movies, TV, and books. These 13 gals are great examples of positive media role models for girls – and for boys, too. After all, where would Harry Potter be without Hermione? No matter their gender, kids will love watching and reading about these female brainiacs. And when they’re done, they can check out some of our other favorite female role models from movies, TV, and books.
Strong, smart, and strategic, this Disney “princess” never lets the boys — or the bad guys — underestimate her. Mulan uses her resourcefulness and ingenuity to stand out in an army full of men and to solve seemingly impossible problems, such as saving all of China from invading forces.