While creative writing MFA programs are on the rise, master’s-level science writing programs have been facing elimination across the country–including at Johns Hopkins, which cancelled its one-year MA in science writing in 2013. But administrations change, priorities shift, and changes are made… and luckily for aspiring science writers out there, the Hopkins science writing program is back in a new form.
Have you heard of the Bechdel test? It’s a schema dreamed up by graphic novelist Alison Bechdel that asks three simple questions of a given work of art: does it feature two female characters with names? Do they talk to each other? About something other than a man? Not so difficult, right? Actually, you might be surprised (or perhaps not surprised at all, if you’ve been paying attention) at all the films that fail the Bechdel test: The Social Network, the (original) Star Wars trilogy, Slumdog Millionaire, The Princess Bride, Trainspotting, When Harry Met Sally… I could go on, but I’ll stop. The Bechdel test exposed the lack of female presence in Hollywood films; now Johns Hopkins professor/acclaimed science writer Ann Finkbeiner has come up with a similar test (the unimaginatively-named “Finkbeiner test”) for stories and profiles about women in science.