“MacGyver-Meets-Dr. Ruth”: Science Journalism and the Material Positioning of Dr. Carla Pugh
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Women's Studies in Communication
This article examines the rhetorical consequences of foregrounding female scientists' materials through an analysis of seven news articles on Dr. Carla Pugh, a surgeon who designs medical patient simulators. Journalists foreground Pugh's materials by positioning her as both “MacGyver,” creatively assembling simulators from everyday objects, and “Dr. Ruth,” willingly discussing intimate parts. These positions avoid focusing on Pugh's personal life or body but still ultimately gender her and her work. The MacGyver position associates Pugh with gendered activities, objects, and spaces while undermining her affiliation with the technical aspects of design. Meanwhile, the Dr. Ruth position implies Pugh's knowledge comes from inherent bodily expertise, making certain scientific fields appear more natural for women.