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Today I’m sharing with you five of my current favorite fictional gifted women. These are not all my favorites; instead I’ve decided to pull together an eclectic list from my favorites in order to illustrate a more comprehensive face of gifted women.
Your family culture may determine which of these characters will be appropriate for you or your little ones. Keep in mind that some of these characters deal with violence, and other negative aspects of life that may trigger your gifted child’s sensitivity.
Leslie Knope of Parks and Recreation: In an interview, Amy Poehler describes her television character as having the spirit of a suffragette but no “game”; like many gifted people, she has a strong sense of justice, but without the tact. She’s rarely intentionally rude, but rather she’s so wrapped up in her various causes and her mission to improve the lives of the people of Pawnee that she sometimes forgets to acknowledge the willingness and preferences of those around her.
She is a driven and passionate leader who is ultimately loved by those closest to her. While this show is no longer on the air, we’re all lucky that it’s available through Netflix.
Peggy Carter of Agent Carter: A strong, witty character just as adept at chemistry as hand-to-hand combat. If we’ve connected through Facebook or Twitter you know this was my favorite show last year. Agent Carter also has a strong sense of justice, and she does “have game”. So much so that she nearly single-handedly saves all of New York multiple times without breaking cover or even much of a sweat.
When the credit for saving New York was once again claimed by a man, she nobly stated, “I don’t need a Congressional honor. I don’t need Agent Thompson’s approval or the President’s. I know my value. Anyone else’s opinion doesn’t really matter.” She’s a bigger person than me… and a gifted woman, indeed.
Louise Belcher of Bob’s Burgers: My love for this animated character cannot be overstated, because there has been a little (or a lot) of Louise in every single one of my students. Louise has an intelligent adult’s wry sense of humor coupled with an immature ego. When combined, these two facets of her personality are responsible for getting Louise into some serious (and hilarious, and lovable) hot water.
She has a strong divergent side that inspires her to take certain school assignments or celebrations above and beyond the next level. I suspect she also has some sensory issues going on with her constant wearing of that adorable pink bunny-eared hat. Everything about her screams gifted and I’ll admit that I sometimes fantasize about being her teacher.
Kate Wetherall (or The Great Kate Weather Machine as she’d prefer to be called) of The Mysterious Benedict Society: This literary character is the epitome of a visual-spatially gifted child. She sees the big picture, is creative, and has a strong connection between her brain and her body. Her mathematical ability comes in the form of gauging distance with extreme accuracy. More than once she puts to use her gifted abilities of spatial relations and mental rotation to save the day. She’s a quirky, cheerful dare devil… and a delight.
It’s highly likely, if not totally obvious, that Constance Contraire is profoundly gifted. She’s also incredibly grumpy, hungry and prone to falling asleep at inopportune moments. This is because Contance is only 2 to 4 years old but can read and write and express herself as much as someone three times her age. She hasn’t aged out of nap time, but is still tasked to fight evil along children much older than her. I’d be grumpy too!
Whenever I think of this clever book I immediately recall my favorite line delivered by Ms. Contraire, “Rules and schools are tools for fools-I wouldn’t give two mules for rules!”
This was super fun to write! Thank you for taking a look. And I’d love to hear how these characters have touched your life and if we share some of the same perspective.
On a more serious note, if you’re like me, you’ll notice that there are zero women of color on this list. Some of my readers know that I’m of mixed ethnicity; my mother is Anglo-American, and my father is Latino. Growing up, I never enjoyed a book or a show with a fictional gifted character that shared my background, a fact that I’ve been acutely aware of for most of my literate life.
The closest I had was Sesame Street (which I never liked), the Cosby family, and A Different World (both of which I loved). Later, I adored Ricky Vasquez (played by Wilson Cruz) on the 90s television show, My So-Called Life.
And while I’m glad that the world knows and loves Dora the Explorer, this is a disproportionately low number of characters when compared to the throngs of white characters offered by popular media. I would’ve loved to have had women of color on this list, but honestly I couldn’t find one that I authentically resonated with, and I think that’s because there aren’t enough people allowing those characters into the spotlight. I’d love for this to change!
If you know of any non-white fictional gifted women characters please share them with our community in the comments.