I'm a big Star Trek fan, but I recently realized there was a gaping hole in my knowledge: How have women contributed to Star Trek?
I'm not talking about the characters. Plenty has been written about how awesome Uhura, Kira, Janeway, and the rest are. I'm talking about the ladies BEHIND the camera -- writers, directors, costume designers, and the like.
Naturally, I began searching the webs. This is Star Trek, I thought, one of the most analyzed media franchises in history. Surely there are lists galore lauding the accomplishments of its female creators and crew!
So, because I love these kinds of projects, I did what any normal and totally non-obsessive person would do: scoured every single Star Trek entry on IMDB searching for women in the production credits. (Awesome Women of Star Trek Library?)
Happily I found that, although information about their specific contributions is often hard to come by, many women's names are attached to this beloved world. Therefore, in the interest of internet real estate and your attention span, I'm splitting this list into multiple posts. The first was dedicated to writers. Today we focus on producers (in rough chronological order). Enjoy!
P.P.S. Most of the info below was drawn from imdb.com, memory-alpha.fandom.com, and linked interviews. While I've done my best to be thorough, I admit my fallibility and welcome corrections. The vast majority of women credited with working on Trek have little to no information available about them, and photos are even more scarce. Also, shorts, video games, books, comics, and fan-made media are not included.
What? Lucille Ball? Yes. Very much yes. By the time Gene Roddenberry brought his idea for the show to Desilu Productions, Ball had bought out her ex-husband and was president of the television studio (the first woman in the industry to hold that position, btw). According to Entertainment Weekly, the board of directors thought making Star Trek would be too expensive and voted it down, but Ball recognized its value and overruled them -- twice -- to get both the original and the second pilot produced. So while she wasn't a "producer" per se, if it weren't for America's favorite redhead, Star Trek never would have been made.
Photo by New york Sunday News [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
We met Dorothy Catherine Fontana in the first post of this series, but as the first woman to have a producer credit for all of Trek, she merits inclusion here as well. Fontana served as associate producer for all 22 episodes of TAS. According to studiobinder.com, an "associate producer" is a tier below "producer," focusing on story and script development -- so basically a lead writer and editor. As associate producer for 12 episodes of TNG's first season as well, she's also one of two women who were the first female producers for a live-action Trek show. Who was the other woman? I'm glad you asked...
Photo by Larry Nemecek [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)] via Wikimedia Commons
You would think there'd be tons of pictures of the first woman to have a producer credit for any of the Trek movies, but what you see above (to the right of Nimoy) was the best I could find. Brooke Breton was associate producer for the fourth, fifth, and sixth Star Trek movies, as well as the series premiere of TNG. She was also Trek's first female post-production supervisor, which is a kind of overall (non-creative) manager for everything that happens after filming is complete, filling this role for the entire first season of TNG. Other highlights of her three decades in the industry include co-producing the groundbreaking film Avatar, and winning a Visual Effects Society Award for producing the short film Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem 3D.
Photo via Twitter @StarTrekWreck
Jeri Taylor is one of the few women whose Trek accomplishments are well known, including creating the first female captain (for which the studio received death threats! What is wrong with people??) and co-creating the entire Voyager series. Taylor started out on TNG in season four as Trek's first female supervising producer, which is a cut above producer in the writing department. Known for injecting more relationship development, she also made sure to feature more women in positions of power, getting both Crusher and Troy into the captain's chair during her tenure. Taylor was the first woman to hold several positions in Trekdom, including supervising producer (TNG), co-executive producer (TNG), executive producer (TNG and Voyager), showrunner (TNG & Voyager), and creator (Voyager). For more on this awesome woman of Trek, I highly recommend reading this great article about her at WomenAtWarp.com. Fun fact: Taylor's son, Alexander Enberg, plays Ensign Vorik on Voyager.
Photo via Memory Alpha
In the TNG episode "Up the Long Ladder" (the one when a bunch of Irish colonists bring their chickens aboard the Enterprise-D), Captain Picard reads on his ready room computer a list of ships. If you look closely, you'll see that one of these ships, the S.S. Seattle, was commanded by Captain Wendy Neuss. Wendy Neuss is also a lieutenant commander aboard the Enterprise-D in the episode "The Chase," and a comedian listed on the holodeck panel in "The Outrageous Okona." The real Wendy Neuss worked on all but the first of TNG's seven seasons as post-production supervisor, associate producer, and Trek's first-ever female co-producer. She also served as co-producer and then producer for Voyager.
Photo via Memory Alpha
Starting out as a first assistant director on TNG, Merri Howard worked for nearly twenty years on three separate Trek shows: TNG, Voyager, and Enterprise. She was the first woman in Trek to carry the titles of producer, line producer, and co-supervising producer, and like Neuss, has several unseen characters named after her, including an admiral, a comedian, and a doctor. During her more than three decades in the industry, she's also worked as a director on the shows Happy Days and MacGyver, and as a producer on Grey's Anatomy and Scandal.
Photo via StarTrek.com
Starting as a post-production coordinator for TNG in its sixth season, Dawn Velazquez (pictured above as a member of the USS Pegasus on Enterprise) worked as associate producer for TNG, DS9, and Voyager -- often simultaneously. You'd think she'd get a break after becoming co-producer of Voyager and then producer for Enterprise, but even then she was working on both shows at once for a whole year! This busy lady bears the distinction of having the most producer credits -- 224 -- of any woman who worked in Trek.
Photo via Memory Alpha
Fifty-three years after the premiere of TOS, Jenny Lumet (alongside Bo Yeon Kim, whom we met in the first post), became the first woman of color to produce for Trek. As co-executive producer for the second season of Discovery, she was one of the top decision makers for the series. She also wrote the two-part second season finale for Discovery, and acted as a consulting producer for the first season of Picard. Despite her family's show biz credentials -- her father was a famous director and her grandmother was legendary entertainer Lena Horne -- Lumet didn't break into Hollywood until her mid-forties, with her script for the film Rachel Getting Married.
Photo via IMDB
Even though Discovery has only been around for 29 episodes, it already holds the record for most female producers of any Trek property with 12 out of 45. The next best is Picard with six, and the worst (besides TOS, which had a big fat goose egg), is TAS with only one (D.C. in the house!).
The movies, unfortunately, are still sadly lacking when it comes to female representation in the producer's arena. The most female producers any single movie has had was three (out of eleven) for Beyond, and there have been ZERO female producers of color for ANY of the movies. Here's hoping the next one gets its act together.
Looking for more women behind the scenes? Hop on the nearest transporter and join us next time for post number three, The Unseen Women of Star Trek: Directors. Or, if you missed the first post, head over to Ten Forward to read up on Trek's women writers.