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Hey show biz folks! Females can host science TV shows too…

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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This morning I came across a few casting notices for some interesting sounding TV shows.  These projects are both in development with Asylum Entertainment, a well-established production company with a solid reputation for producing programs that have aired on a number of networks including Animal Planet, TLC, A&E, History Channel and ESPN (just to name a few).  One of their latest projects, ‘The Kennedys’ with Katie Holmes and Greg Kinnear, was a massive hit this past spring which garnered international acclaim.

It is fantastic to see that such solid production companies are hard at work developing content with scientific merit – something that television generally lacks and very much requires.  What’s NOT fantastic however; are their descriptions of their ideal hosting candidates:

Show #1:  Monster Machinery

Mike Rowe, host of 'Dirty Jobs'. Photo via

This show is looking for two engineer-type hosts that aren’t afraid to re-work the mechanics of various machines/vehicles/appliances for entertaining purposes.  Host #1 should have a ‘larger than life’ personality, while host #2 should have a very strong personality and be more serious than host #1.  They describe their ideal host #1 as “Mike Rowe meets Mythbusters”, and they specify that BOTH should be males between the ages of 25 and 45.

Anthony Bourdain, host of 'No Reservations'. Photo via

Show #2:  Insects (title TBD)

This show seeks a host with a passion for (and solid scientific background in) entomology.  In this show our heroic bug-loving host will travel the globe looking for all kinds of crazy insects from the highly poisonous and deadly to the harmless yet menacing.   Again, they describe their ideal host as male aged 25 – 45, having a ‘larger than life’ personality, with a description of “Anthony Bourdain traveling the globe seeking out bugs’.

Now, the whole Mike Rowe/Anthony Bourdain angle is obviously something that works – I’ve seen a number of casting notices of similar description, looking for exactly these same kinds of characters for shows in various genres.  I get it.  Both of these fellas are entertaining hosts and do a great job on their own shows -  BUT (and this is a great big BUT) there’s NO REASON to rule out the possibility that a female host could not be just as convincing and charismatic in this kind of role.  I’m certain that there are many extremely captivating female engineers and entomologists that could rock these positions – in fact I know many of them personally.

So ladies here’s my advice: let’s make a run at these castings and make a statement about just WHO would be fantastic in a role like this.  They may think that a Mike Rowe/Anthony Bourdain is what they are looking for – but they haven’t seen the likes of YOU yet.  To contact the casting director for either of these productions send an email to:


Carin Bondar About the Author: Carin Bondar is a biologist, writer and film-maker with a PhD in population ecology from the University of British Columbia. Find Dr. Bondar online at, on twitter @drbondar or on her facebook page: Dr. Carin Bondar – Biologist With a Twist. Follow on Twitter @drbondar.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. sciencegoddess 8:16 pm 09/1/2011

    I’ll never forget the time I thought I would try for a casting that was seemingly genderless, and then at the deadline, suddenly was narrowed to “MEN ONLY”.
    It was a paradigm shifting moment. I, as a woman, had always had a knack for communicating science. I’d been doing it for 20 years. Heck, I’d even been in front of the camera more than most of those they were looking to cast. It was then I realized that not enough women are seen articulating science on TV. This is a healthy thing for both girls and boys to see.
    From TV’s standpoint, it is about ratings and they are hesitant to move past the formula of using a “guys’ guy” as a host. Mike Rowe and Bear Grylls are proven likeable styles. TV has difficulties moving from that stance.
    I have lot more I could share on this topic. In fact, I gave a presentation about it at Science Online 2010. There have been a few women, including Mireya Mayor at National Geographic, but for most non-nature based science shows, if there is a woman, very rarely do they stand alone.

    Link to this
  2. 2. kclancy 4:17 pm 09/2/2011

    Thanks so much for writing this Carin, and sciencegoddess for your input too. Given all the cool female sciencebloggers, I’m not sure why there is still this idea that we can’t be as engaging as men.

    Oh wait… *puts gender lenses on.* Forget it. I get it now.

    Link to this

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