Jyn Erso is not a princess or a Jedi. She is, however, the second female character with a lead role in a “Star Wars” movie in the last two years. It’s a statistic that would have been unthinkable 40 years ago, when Princess Leia reigned alone in a galaxy of men and her dialogue was less than half that of the golden droid C-3PO in “A New Hope.” But even with the advent of back-to-back female protagonists, the women onscreen are only now catching up with those working behind the scenes at Industrial Light & Magic, the special-effects studio founded by George Lucas.
Take Rachel Rose, who has spent the last decade as an engineer at the studio. As a freshman at Grinnell College in Iowa, Ms. Rose had never programmed a computer. She was surprised to find that in her introductory computer science courses, her classmates were all men and had been coding for years. Ms. Rose soon caught up with them, and by the time she graduated with her doctorate in computer science from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, she had become accustomed not only to software design and computer graphics, but also to being the only woman in the room.
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