I've had a friend go down a similar path, and it ended badly.
Many of us are shy, or awkward. Many of us struggle with interpersonal relationships. However, some of us choose to improve our approach, while others choose to lay the blame for their failed relationships at the feet of anyone except themselves.
The superiority complex is a defense mechanism against having to admit that she may have a problem. Against the painful realization that the world may not conform to her views, and that she may have to change in order to fit in.
What I tried with my friend was simply brutal honesty. One night, after months of subtle hints, when I really felt like I was at the end of patience with his attitude, I sat down with him and straight up told him that he'd become an a-hole. Diplomacy was not on the agenda that evening, and I was very open in my assessment of what he's going through, and how others perceive him.
As it turns out, that was the last time I spoke to him, because he completely cut ties with me. All my good intentions, and, from my point of view, boundless patience, had been for naught.
You may want to try a more subtle approach, but the longer you wait, the worse it's going to get. I still believe that brutal honesty is the best way to break through to these people, as it may actually force them to do a little soul searching. However, be prepared for the potential blow-back, because your friend may have gone just a little too far down the rabbit hole.
Although this may sound terrible, consider this: do you really want to remain friends with a person who is as prejudiced, insensitive, and stuck up as her? I can tell from your question that your patience is coming to an end, much like mine did all those years ago.
Don't be afraid to cut a toxic person out of your life, because you're doing yourself no favors by clinging on to the relationship. Remember that no matter how the conversation goes, you will have followed your moral compass, and adhered to your principles. It's now on her to change, and you can't be held accountable if she makes conscious choices to ruin her own life and career.
NOTE: As an aside, I would suggest buying he a copy of How to make friends and influence people. Maybe some of the advice will stick if she ever reads it.
Here are some strategies for dealing with her on an ongoing basis (this is after your heart-to-heart talk about the transformation you've witnessed her undergo):
- Every time she says something rude, or insensitive, call her out.
And I don't mean in a cushy way like you've been doing. For example:
Her: All engineers are stupid.
You: That's an incredibly biased, rude, and close-minded thing to say. You pride yourself on being a scientist? What happened to objectivity and weight of proof? Engineers have designed computers, they built the equipment you use to further your own studies. Sure, some engineers are incompetent, but so are some scientists. How can you say something like that and then claim to be a woman of science?
This puts the pressure on her to analyze her own definition of what a scientist is, and whether she meets the standard. And don't let her wiggle her way out of it:
Her: Fine, not all engineers, but most.
You: No, that's BS and you know it. There are so many brilliant engineers out there who have contributed so much to not only their fields, but science as well. You're just on the beginning of your career, if you even manage to kick it off the ground with that attitude. You really think you're so amazing that you can look down on all those people? Even Einstein was more modest than you.
- Don't be afraid to walk away if she's being a entitled brat.
If she's being a brat, let her stew in her own juices, and walk away. Don't put up with her crap - instead, send a strong message that her behavior is unacceptable:
Her: Ugh, I don't even want to see those people. They're so lame. Complete idiots!
You: I happen to like them, and get along with them. I don't appreciate your judgmental attitude.
Her: Whatever, I don't know how you can hang out with those idiots.
You: You know what? You're being incredibly rude right now. You think you're an angel who gets to pass judgement on everyone around her? No wonder you can't make any friends when all you do is look down at people. It hurts me to see you do this to yourself, and I'm not going to sit here and watch you dig yourself further into this hole. I'm going to see my friends, whom you think are beneath you, and I'm going to have fun. You can stay home all by yourself, and think about how your high and mighty attitude works wonders for your interpersonal relationships.
And then you walk away, cancelling your plans for that evening.
Really, one of two things will happen: either she will realize that she values you as a friend, and this will force her to re-asses her attitude, or she will place you in the "inferior"/"hater" people category and cut ties with you.