5 Most Inspirational Women in "Star Trek"

March is Women's History Month, and we'd like to mark the occasion by highlighting some of the truly inspirational women in Star Trek. Wikipedia defines Women's History Month as "an annual declared month that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. It is celebrated during March in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, corresponding with International Women's Day on March 8." Here are five of the women who have inspired generations by working in front of and behind the camera.

01
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Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew)

Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew)
Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew). Paramount/CBS

When Star Trek: Voyager premiered, the show introduced the world to Captain Kathryn Janeway. Janeway wasn't the first female Starfleet captain to appear on screen, but she was the most prominent. She put a female as the lead on a Star Trek series for the first time. It was a bold step, even in the 1990s. Not only were women not typically seen in a position of power, but Janeway was a scientist when science was considered a masculine field. Her forceful yet nurturing command of the USS Voyager inspired a generation of women, drawing little girls into Star Trek fandom, and also into science as well. In 2015, astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti tweeted a picture of herself on the International Space Station wearing a Star Trek uniform and quoting Janeway. The captain's legacy has been carried to the stars.

02
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Lt. Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby)

Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby)
Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby). Paramount/CBS

In the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the security chief aboard the USS Enterprise-D is Tasha Yar. Yar broke the mold for feminine characters on television, apparently inspired by the tough space marine Vasquez on 1986's movie Aliens. Yar was bold, strong, and keenly tactical. At the same time, she had a vulnerability from her childhood living as an orphan on a brutal war-torn world. Many women found her non-stereotypical attitude refreshing, and fans were outraged at her unheroic death in "Skin of Evil." Crosby returned to play the character again in "Yesterday's Enterprise," and also as Yar's half-Romulan daughter in later episodes. But we can only wonder how amazing Yar could have been as a regular character.

03
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Majel Barrett-Roddenberry

Nurse Chapel (Majel Barrett)
Nurse Chapel (Majel Barrett). Paramount/CBS

Majel Barrett has been a part of Star Trek in some form since the beginning, even before the show aired. Originally, Roddenberry wanted her to play Number One in the original series, the female second in command. Unfortunately, the studio couldn't handle the idea of a woman in a commanding role in the 1960's, and her role was cut in the re-vamped pilot. She went on to play Nurse Christine Chapel in the original Star Trek series. She later re-appeared as Lwaxana Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. She also voiced most of the computers throughout the series. As the wife of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, she worked behind the scenes as well, earning her the nickname "the First Lady of Star Trek."

04
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D.C. Fontana

D.C. Fontana
D.C. Fontana. WGA

Many Star Trek fans are familiar with the name DC Fontana, even if they don't really know the person behind the name. DC Fontana has been writing for Trek since the beginning, and has popped up on the writing credits numerous times. In reality, DC Fontana is Dorothy Catherine Fontana. She adopted the pseudonym "D.C. Fontana" to avoid gender bias in the male-dominated TV industry. She was a struggling writer when she became Gene Roddenberry's secretary, and began working on the original Star Trek. She turned one of his ideas into the episode "Charlie X." After rewriting "This Side of Paradise," Roddenberry gave her the job of story editor. She continued working after the show's cancellation as story editor and associate producer for Star Trek: The Animated Series. She later returned as a writer and associate producer on Star Trek: The Next Generation and also wrote an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. She's even written for several Star Trek video games and a novel. For female writers growing up on Star Trek, she's an inspiration to what could be achieved.

05
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Uhura (Nichelle Nichols)

Uhura (Nichelle Nichols)
Uhura (Nichelle Nichols). Paramount/CBS

On the original series, Lt. Uhura served as the communications officer. Though Uhura played a relatively small role (she rarely went on away missions or had action scenes), she served greater importance in terms of TV history. She highlighted the multicultural nature of the crew at a time when that wasn't the  norm. She was one of the first African-American characters in a position of power on American television in the sixties. Comedian and actor Whoopi Goldberg recalled telling her family, "I just saw a black woman on television; and she ain't no maid!" Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King himself met Nichols and convinced her to stay on the series, because he believed she represented racial harmony for the future. NASA later brought Nichols into a campaign to encourage women and African-Americans to join. The first African-American woman to fly aboard the Space Shuttle, Dr. Mae Jemison, said she was inspired by Star Trek (and Uhura) to join the space program.

Final Thoughts

These five women have brought generations of women into science and science-fiction, and continue to do so, making changes in the real world.
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Mitchell, Nigel. "5 Most Inspirational Women in "Star Trek"." ThoughtCo, Mar. 20, 2016, thoughtco.com/most-inspirational-women-in-star-trek-3990656. Mitchell, Nigel. (2016, March 20). 5 Most Inspirational Women in "Star Trek". Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/most-inspirational-women-in-star-trek-3990656 Mitchell, Nigel. "5 Most Inspirational Women in "Star Trek"." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/most-inspirational-women-in-star-trek-3990656 (accessed November 21, 2017).