A definitive rating of the steminist laptop stickers of the Barnard Year of Science.
I want to make one thing clear: I am not a novelty sticker hater. I adore a good sticker collection. Personally, I have my own carefully cultivated sticker aesthetic, which I like to refer to as “Taylor Swift’s the lakes meets Gen Z Latinx girlboss.” However, we as a university community have not dedicated enough literature to an incredibly pressing issue: the girlbossification of Woman in STEM merchandise.
If you haven’t been personally victimized by the Barnard Year of Science, you might be asking yourself, “what is the ‘girlbossification of Woman in STEM merchandise?’” That answer is both incredibly simple and impossibly complex. In short, it’s a specific, highly-curated collection of merch that generally sends the message “women in STEM 💖” and does not engage in any more discussion. To know this phenomenon is to love her, and if you’ve been on campus during the Barnard Year of Science, you’ve known her.
Perhaps the very concept of Woman in STEM merchandise itself is inextricably intertwined with girlbossiness. Maybe steminists are the daughters of the girlbosses you couldn’t burn. What does Woman in STEM merch look like liberated from the Girlboss sticker industry? Is there Woman in STEM merchandise without it? Is anyone profiting more from the Barnard Year of Science than the Redbubble sticker industry?
If you look deeper, could she be an omen of the corruption of a legitimate discourse by unfettered capitalism and white feminist rhetoric? Perhaps. But these stickers aren’t looking deeper. I could write a graduate-level thesis on the Girlbossification of Steminism, but until then, I would like to use up the rest of my critical thought to interpret this phenomenon through a Girl Power sticker lens.
A classic. Say what you will about this sticker, but I cannot emphasize enough that she is the blueprint for all of this. I can’t imagine a sticker that better encapsulates its own negative connotations. It is somehow both the most and the least self-aware possible merch to own. Can you think of a more iconic fall from grace than that of the girlboss? In 2014, she was on top of the white feminist entrepreneurial world. Last week, someone unironically complimented me with this word and I considered dropping out. What other sticker carries that kind of history? She is the Look What You Made Me Do music video. She is Cara Delevingne’s Peg the Patriarchy vest. She is Blair Waldorf saying “maybe I am a total bitch. Did you ever think about that?” We as consumers of women in academia novelty stickers are better for having known her. I like to think that maybe somewhere, in a secluded cabin upstate where inherently problematic feminist trends go die, she’s been listening Nothing New (feat. Phoebe Bridgers) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault) non-stop since its release.
Contributions to the genre: 100/10
“Steminist” may be a term that my mom described as “overused even though I’m just now hearing it for the first time,” but I have to say, I feel a little bit bad for this sticker. She just entered the spotlight, and she’s already carrying all of #Girlboss’s cultural baggage. What has she ever done to us? She wanted to be cute and punny and she could not possibly have imagined the world she would be entering. That being said, if I found out this sticker was actually part of an elaborate propaganda campaign designed to make people hate women in STEM more, I would believe it in a heartbeat.
Potential to actively convert women out of a STEM major: 6/5
Support Women in Science
This one is overt STEM Girlboss propaganda, but I can’t help but be a little bit in love with her. Does it make me want to fulfill my science foundations requirement? No. At the same time, do I find myself reconsidering my staunchly anti-Year of Science position? Absolutely. I am absolutely mesmerized by the Astronaut Girlie. I would trust Purple Doctor with my life. I am not sure what the third scientist does, but I desparately want her to like me.
Year of Science Brand Identity: 14/10
BE THE ENGINEER YOUR PARENTS WANTED YOU TO MARRY
I wanted to hate this one, but much like the Barnard Year of Science, it isn’t going anywhere. She is the quirky—if less exploitative—younger sister of “Be the CEO Your Parents Wanted You To Marry.” I think she has “#Girlboss” potential. I can see her on the cover of memoirs, in the title of a Netflix original series starring Anna Kendrick or Emma Roberts, on a millennial pink made-for-Instagram mural wall. I don’t know that any other sticker on this list emits stronger Year of Science energy.
Looks like something Sian Beilock herself would own: 100/3
These Two Hands Knitting Together A DNA Strand
Immaculate vibes. She is everything HWC admissions ads are trying to be. She is her own “Why Barnard?” essay. Something about her is too kind and too pure to have been corrupted by the STEM-to-Girlboss pipeline. She is Sadie Sink in All Too Well: The Short Film of Woman in STEM merchandise, if “steminist” is Dylan O’Brien.
Unlike an actual Girlboss in STEM™ last week, she would never tell me she doesn’t think service workers deserve holidays off.
Makes me consider switching to a STEM major: 12/8
This sticker would absolutely tell me she doesn’t think service workers deserve holidays off. I cannot express in words how viscerally upsetting it was to come across this sticker in Milstein 2. She is the Pennywise of the girlboss sticker canon. If the DNA Knitting sticker was Sadie Sink in All Too Well: The Short Film, “Girl Genius” is Jake Gyllenhaal himself. When Billie Eilish wrote “you made me hate this city,” I know she was talking about her first time encountering this sticker in the wild. I was attempting to write a joke about this sticker being the poster child for white feminism in STEM when I remembered that I first discovered it layered directly over a tiny “abolish prisons” sticker. The joke wrote itself.
Irreparable damage to decades of feminist movement: 400/10
Bonus: A huge, pink-tinted portrait of a young Hillary Clinton
This sticker may not be Girlboss in STEM specific, but I can’t stop thinking about it. None of the previous stickers have created this many questions for me. Why Hillary Clinton? What intricate thought process went into selecting this sticker in particular? What were the Redbubble search terms? What statement is this implicitly making about women’s need to be young and aesthetically pleasing in order for their contributions to be valued? Why Hillary Clinton???
Element of Mystery: priceless
Artistic rendering of #Girlboss sticker via Bwog Archives
Artistic rendering of steminist sticker via Bwog Archives
Photo of Support Women in Science sticker via Bwog Archives
Photo of Be the Engineer sticker via Bwog Archives
Photo of DNA Knitting sticker via Bwog Archives
Artistic Rendering of Girl Genius sticker via Bwog Archives
Photo of Young Hillary sticker via Bwog Archives