The Star Wars and Star Trek film franchises may both be staunch advocates of diversity and representation in the Hollywood industry, however, fans believe that Star Trek handles its female characters much better than Star Wars.
CBS just recently sent out a survey to Star Wars and Star Trek fans to decide which franchise really was better (via CNET), and it seems like one of the reasons Star Trek wins is because of its strong female characters. Sure, Star Wars might have female icons to look up to like Leia (Carrie Fisher), Rey (Daisy Ridley), Ahsoka Tano, and a few more others, however, many forget that before the prequel trilogy, Leia was the only female lead.
Star Trek, on the other hand, has always had a long history of showcasing the intelligence and strength of women, especially those in leadership positions. There’s Lieutenant Uhura, a translator and communications officer specializing in linguistics, philology, and cryptography. Uhura was the first female black character to take on a non-menial role in a major television series. Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) was a perfect model to look up to, Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) was strong and intimidating, and Shahna of Triskelion (Angelique Pettyjohn) was often cited as a prime example of female TV gladiators.
Star Wars is getting better though. Ever since Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm, Star Wars has incorporated more and more tough, skilled, and intelligent female characters like Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Cara Dune (Gina Carano) in Star Wars: The Mandalorian. We can only hope that Star Wars continues down this path towards equal representation.
The Skywalker saga is available for streaming on Disney+.