McCann New York Pokes Fun at Sexism in Tech with Girls Who Code Campaign

By Erik Oster 

McCann New York launched a campaign which seeks to answer the question “Why Can’t Girls Code?” for Girls Who Code, a national non-profit seeking to close the gender gap in the tech industry (luckily no such problems in advertising, right guys?).

Spoiler alert: they can!

A 60-second spot sees young girls some over-the-top “reasons” why girls can’t code. These include a girl staring down at her chest and saying, “I tried to get into coding buy cleavage is so distracting.” Another girl adds that her long eyelashes make it hard to see the screen. “When I’m not menstruating , I’m ovulating, so there’s no time to code…at all,” adds another.”


McCann New York’s use of sarcastic humor represents a different approach to the issue, rather than the typical empowerment (although there’s undoubtedly a sense of empowerment in parodying misogynist notions that girls can’t code). While not exactly laugh out loud funny, the point is made abundantly clear in a way that still manages not to beat viewers over the head with the message.  A series of further spots delve into individual “reasons” why girls can’t code, such as menstruation, boobs and beauty.

“There are already a ton of inspirational videos about why girls should code. We wanted to try something different and use humour and satire to question the stereotypes that tell our girls that coding is not for them,” Girls Who Code founder and CEO Reshma Saujaniexplained explained to LBB

“When the girls themselves verbalise the biases it becomes abundantly clear just how ridiculous it is, said “McCann New York executive creative director Priti Kapur. “The notion that being a woman is somehow a disadvantage for coding is so deeply ingrained in society that you almost need to hear it out loud to realise how crazy it is.”
At the end of the spot, by which time the point is obvious, text appears onscreen with the message: “Girls do code. Every other theory is ridiculous.” and directing viewers to

“There’s also the notion that girls can’t appreciate this kind of humour – also a ridiculous stereotype,” added group creative director Susan Young.