Quick, name an inventor … a female inventor. Not so easy, is it?
In the 100-second film below, part of Microsoft's "Make What's Next" campaign timed to International Women's Day today, girls ages 7 to 15 struggle to come up with examples.
"In school, it was always a male inventor. I just realized that," one girl said.
Edison, Franklin, Leonardo Da Vinci and other brilliant men are rightly revered. Still, as the film points out, "not everything is man made."
"There are a lot of amazing things that have been made, and continue to be made, by women," Susan Young, group creative director at McCann Worldgroup's m:united, which made the work, tells Adweek. "And if you study STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math], you can make anything. We want girls to know that they can make anything."
Indeed, there are plenty of women inventors, historical and contemporary, for youngsters to admire. The film lists quite a few, and shorter videos zero in on some of them. These include Yvonne Brill, who aimed high to develop rocket and jet propulsion systems:
Next, there's Ada Lovelace, who devised the first computer program—in 1843!
And here's sharp-minded Tabith Babbitt, who invented the circular saw:
"Oh my god, that's so much," says one girl in the film as she learns about the women's STEM achievements. "I didn't even know that stuff."
That's the point of the campaign, which is a follow-up to last year's "Girls Do Science" push. The new effort includes broadcast, online video and social media across 35 countries.
The approach pointedly illustrates that women and girls are sorely underrepresented in the educational sciences and high-tech workforce. In fact, according to recent estimates, only about 10 percent of executives at Silicon Valley's top 150 tech companies are women.
To help narrow the gap, Microsoft will make programs and resources available at MakeWhatsNext.com. At South by Southwest this month, the company is launching an interactive activation to connect girls with tech influencers. A patent program for girls is also on tap.
Ultimately, however, it all begins with planting a dream, and role models can be a vital part of that process. They supply invaluable inspiration, providing girls with glimpses of what they can accomplish—the kinds of people they might one day become.
One of the youngsters in the film says it best: "To know that there were women before me gives me motivation that I can invent something and make maybe a change in the world. That would be really cool."
Co-Chief Creative Officers: Sean Bryan, Thomas Murphy
Group Creative Directors: Susan Young, Daniela Vojta
Copywriter: Sarah Menacho
Senior Art Director: Trinh Pham
Designer: Kelly Kim
Head of Integrated Production: Aaron Kovan
Senior Producer: Meg McCarthy
Producer: Rebecca Magner
SVP, Group Creative Director: Roberto Santellana
UX Director: Daniel Schultze
Designer: Jaeeun Chung
UX Specialist: Flora Kwong
Interactive Producer: Sean Flannigan
President m:united: John Dunleavy
Managing Director: Kevin Nelson
Account: Tina Galley, Jason Kolinsky, Rosemary Calderone, Courtney LeBlanc, Sarah Livingston
Global Strategy Director: Michelle Kiely
Strategy: Todd Sussman, Eldad Heilweil, Priyanka Nigam, Courtney Bernstein, Ryan Duffy
Project Management: Stella Warkman, Kristen Lillis, Vinny Tran
Production Company: Hungry Man
Director: Nanette Burstein
Executive Producer: Nancy Hacohen
Producer: Julianne Maloney
Editor: Sloane Klevin
EP: Caryn Maclean
Producer: Lauren Hafner Addison
Flame: Kirk Balden
Graphics Producer: Yoko Lytle
Graphics Creative Director: Chris Bialkowski
Graphics Artist: Eric Dalimarta
Mix: Cory Melious @ Heard City
Transfer: Jaime O'Bradovich @ Company 3
Music: JSM Music
Chief Creative Officer/Composer: Joel Simon
Executive Producer: Jeff Fiorello
Producer: Norm Felker
Asche & Spencer
Interested in invention?