Ad of the Day: Microsoft Teaches Kids About Brilliant Female Inventors for Women’s Day

'Make what's next,' say STEM ads from m:united

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 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."


Client: Microsoft

Agency: m:united

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

Digital Credits

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


Union Editorial

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

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@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.