gender

5 Ad Campaigns That Legit Demonstrate #GirlPower

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Ads are legit everywhere and since we're CONSTANTLY bombarded by them, the messages they produce have a lasting impact. We really think the media has a responsibility to provide us with messaging that helps rather than harms, but sadly, that's not the way it works! The good news is that not all ads are created equal. In fact, we've even found a few that ACTUALLY aim to empower women. We're super obsessed with the crazy power that the media has over us and have been advocating for POSITIVE media messaging forever and ever and ever. Well, Rome wasn't built in a day, but at least we've found a few bricks and mortar. Check out our list of 5 ad campaigns that use their power for good instead of evil, and actually aim to empower and inspire women!

1. Always, “Like a Girl”

At the start of their ad, Always asks: “What does it mean to do something like a girl?” The response to this question is at first disheartening: girls of older ages mimic, based on learned stereotypes, what it means to them to “run like a girl”, “fight like a girl”, and “throw like a girl”. Plot twist: challenging these stereotypes adopted by older generations are younger girls, girls whose reactions to these questions are without influence from others; these younger girls simply demonstrate how to run and fight the way anyone would. These girls have the advantage of not yet being jaded by stereotypes and media that tell girls to be a certain way – we could learn a thing or two from them!  After breaking the news to the older girls about how the younger girls reacted to these questions, the older girls reflect upon their initial reactions and change their responses to reflect who they truly are. In fact, when asked if she would change her answer to the original question, one of the older girls responded with: “I would run like myself." We LOVE this campaign - love yourself for YOU, embrace yourself AS YOU, and don't let anyone tell you WHO YOU ARE!

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2. Dove, “Choose Beautiful”

In Dove’s “Choose Beautiful” video, women are given two doorways to walk through, each labelled differently. One doorway is labelled “average” and the other doorway is labelled “beautiful”. The video shows most women walking through the “average” door and then captures their reasoning behind this choice. According to the women featured in the video, the reason they chose to walk through the “average” door was because they were constantly put down by others, by media which dictates what "beautiful" is SUPPOSED to be...so they simply didn't feel entitled to walk through that doorway labelled “beautiful”. The message of the video is simple: rather than choosing to listen to what others say about your beauty, it is important to define beauty for yourself; a woman should #choosebeautiful - we LOVE IT!

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3. P&G, “Thank You Mom – Strong”

P&G’s “Thank You Mom – Strong” campaign, demonstrates the amazing amazing power of mothers. In a world where we often forget to recognize the power of our amazing moms, P&G highlights the importance of mothers in their child's lives! So often moms are portrayed as nagging, frantic women who can't seem to get it together - totally unfair and untrue! Alternating between flashbacks and current moments in athlete’s lives, this advertisement demonstrates the lasting impact that THEIR moms had on their super awesome lives. Showing a side of the mother-child relationship that isn't usually portrayed by mass media, this campaign praises mothers and challenges the stereotypes we have about the roles they play in our lives.

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4. Always, “Girl Emojis”

By interviewing girls of all ages, Always uncovers a problem with emojis: they fail to truly represent women and the roles they play in society. Okay, let's face it - we all love a good Emoji, no argument there! But the representation of women in emojis fails to be diverse; female emojis lack representation in a variety of professions and most of the female emojis are wearing PINK - like really guys?! It may seem like a little thing, but it's just another way that stereotypes are reinforced LITERALLY at the tip of our fingers! The solution? Always asks girls what Emojis THEY would want to see. The answer to this question is super-empowering and brings a huge smile to our faces here at TMG. They want to see female cops, cyclists, lawyers, doctors...they want to see THEIR life dreams reflected on their phones, not the archaic dreams of he status quo. Plain and simple, this ad is awesome.

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5. Dove, “Beauty on your own terms”

This awesome ad opens with women reciting the same old same old:

“how can she be a lawyer?” “only skinny girls can dress well” etc etc ugh

The messaging women have had to swallow their entire lives piles up and totally makes the viewer feel completely dejected and...gross! Just when it feels like this ad CAN'T possibly redeem itself, the tone completely changes. Instead of succumbing to the bombardment of insults they've received their whole lives, these women speak back and stand up about the injustices they have faced. Words of retaliation are sung, fists are raised, stands are taken. SUCH a kickass campaign - guaranteed to pump you up and change your mind about what we are all truly capable of!

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Our advice after watching these advertisements? Talk and think about these videos! Share them with a friend, a family member, your network. What are they telling you about your belief system? What are they telling you about YOUR idea of what it means to be a girl? Finally, use your newfound wisdom to challenge the gender binary, challenge stereotypes, challenge others and most importantly - to challenge YOURSELF!

Guest Guru: Q & A with Mayim Bialik!

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Okay guys, this is a big one for us. Last year, one of OUR role models, Mayim Bialik, invited us to write a piece for her incredible and inspiring site, GrokNation. Today, she’s making a cameo on our blog as an ever-fab Guest Guru! Aside from being a kickass leading lady on The Big Bang Theory, she's one of the big players in the movement towards encouraging women to pursue #STEM. Mayim is an advocate that we totally look up to and wish we could hang out with on the daily - for real. We’re so pumped that she took the time to answer some of our burning questions! Q: Let's start with this: what is the absolute coolest thing about math and/or science?

A: Well, it's hard to pick one thing! I think the coolest thing about math is that it is a completely arbitrary set of names and labels we have given to a system that literally runs the universe. Instead of calling things one, six, and 500, we could also call them polkadot, badger, and violin. Math would still be math because it just IS and we find ways to explain what it is with words and symbols and labels.

Q: Why should high school kids stick with math and science instead of dropping them at the earliest opportunity?

A: The majority of jobs available to young people in the future will require some background in math and science. In addition, some of the higher paid jobs and jobs in the fastest growing most exciting markets require math and science. Plus, understanding math and science sets you up for understanding the world in a whole different way even if you don't choose to go into those for your career. It can help you plan for your life including finances, buying a house, and general decision-making. Also, it gives you an appreciation of the universe that can really change your perspective on life in great ways.

Q: I love love love that you're passionate about finding ways to encourage young women to enter STEM - that's what I'm all about! What are three things that you think we all could be doing that we're not?

A: More positive role models, more mentorship programs, and more funding from the government please!

Q: Girls often develop the belief that they're inherently bad at math much more frequently than boys do. Why do you think that is?

A: Girls and boys brains do tend to work differently, and this means that sometimes the female brain appreciates being taught in ways that have typically been designed to teach male brains.  Sometimes, girls need to be able to picture themselves as a mathematician or a scientist in order to be able to understand why the skills are even important to put in effort to learn. Also, girls tend to be more social, more verbally sophisticated, and more interested in different kinds of activities than these classes sometimes lend themselves to. Creative teachers and more funding for math and science in schools would help this a lot.

Q: I really really believe that a huge part of why girls aren't inspired to pursue STEM is due to the fact that popular media doesn't exactly paint STEM as inspiring or welcoming for girls. What do you think?

A: I think we definitely see a lot of stereotypes of females in the media when we think about women in science. In addition, our culture in general reveres youth and beauty over praising and understanding the kind of people who pursue a life in math and science. So I don't know that I would blame the media, but I think the media is part of a larger problem we have in our culture with what we value and how.

Q: Do you think that your character in Big Bang is finally a step in the right direction for popular media and representations of women in STEM? Have any young women reached out to you about our character?

A: A lot of people think the characters on the Big Bang theory are stereotypes and possibly negative stereotypes of nerds and geeks. I personally know people like all of the characters!  and while Bernadette is a microbiologist who wears more attractive clothing and cute headbands and Amy is more of a modest dresser, we are showing two different kinds of females in science and I love being a part of that.  Also, all of the characters on the Big Bang theory who are scientists enjoy their lives, enjoy the way their life is structured and have friends and successful relationships. I think that is very important to show on television.

Q: Lack of confidence is a major issue when it comes to girls pursuing STEM. What advice do you have for parents of young girls who develop a fear of math in elementary school?

A: Reinforcing that boy and girl brains alike can and should learn math is very important. There are a lot of programs online that parents can be involved with alongside their children to encourage them to build positive skills especially in the math department.

Q: How do you feel about the word 'nerd'? Yes or no and why?

A: I fall under the category of nerd and geek so I say yes!  I have been called a nerd a lot in my life by people who were being mean, but now the culture has shifted, I kind of like being called a nerd. I love all sorts of nerdy and geeky things and enjoy my life a lot because of those things.

Q: Is there hope? Seriously - do you think things have improved in terms of female participation in STEM fields, and do you see them continuing to improve?

A: I think there is definitely hope. You and the work you do give me hope!

For more info on Mayim and the amazing work she does to encourage young women to pursue STEM, check out her full-on website or visit Groknation! LOVE her SO MUCH!

Can you think of someone who you would love for us to feature as a Guest Guru? Holler at us: info@themathguru.ca!

Photo Cred: James Banasiak

 

5 Reasons to Watch Hidden Figures

Oscar season is just around the corner and thanks to Oscar-nominated movie Hidden Figures, TMG is buzzing with excitement about this year’s red carpet. Telling the story of three African-American women who are BOTH mathematicians and scientists at NASA, this movie is extremely empowering. TMG is OBSESSED with the fact that this movie showcases the incredible abilities of women in STEM – we LOVE girl power! As if watching women crush and crunch numbers like total BOSSES wasn’t reason enough to see this movie, we are providing you with 5 MORE reasons to go and watch Hidden Figures. 1. Math and Science are Relevant

Showing you that math and science have USEFUL applications outside of the classroom, Hidden Figures makes you realize that what you’re currently learning is relevant to not only a potential future career but also relevant to your understanding of what kind of theoretical work is applied to NASA’s space missions.

2. Math and Science are Cool

Hollywood is cool, right?! And sexy, sparkly, glamorous, Hollywood is talking about a movie that features math and science. Therefore, Hollywood is making math and science cool. SO, be cool and get in on the Hollywood buzz!

3. Learn About History

Want to sound knowledgeable about American history? Go and watch Hidden Figures! Because this movie is based on a true story, you will come out of this movie knowing SO much more about an important (yet underrepresented) part of American history.

4. Strong Acting

Featuring fierce and fiery performances by Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae and Taraji P, this trio of women is one that will keep you riveted from beginning to end. With Oscar nominations to prove the star-quality of their performances, the acting in Hidden Figures will NOT disappoint.

5. Feel-Good Story

A lot of movies currently in theatres are super-heavy tear jerkers that have you leaving the theatre in a bit of a slump. If you want to be picked up, enlightened and empowered, this movie is the one to watch. Hidden Figures will make you laugh and cheer loudly for these amazing women, you will feel GOOD after leaving the theatre.

If you think about it, we have really given you 6 reasons to go and see Hidden Figures. So, get off of Netflix and get into a theatre to watch this empowering, inspiring and educational piece of highly talked about art that ACTUALLY features STEM!!!

 

 

 

Guest Guru: Meet Elizabeth Celentano!

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What even IS a "Guest Guru"? Let us tell you! There are so many amazing people with so many incredible voices out there, that we wanted to dedicate a part of our blog to giving these voices a platform. Our new "Guest Guru" feature is our way of showcasing the amazing awesome people and places that we've had the chance to discover, to create a community of shared experiences. You know what they say: two minds (or like, a million minds) are better than one! Our Guest Gurus might be featured once, twice or on an ongoing basis if they want to share as much as possible with you! We know that we don't know EVERYTHING, and we're excited to collab with people that know stuff that we don't so that YOU, in turn, can learn from them as much as we can. We hope that you enjoy our very first Guest Guru post! If YOU have a great idea for a Guest Guru that we can feature on our site - email us at info@themathguru.ca! The more the merrier - enjoy the ride!

Women in enginnering are super cool

Hello TMG readership!

To my knowledge, I am the first guest-blogger to join the TMG family! I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to share this space with you all.

My name is Liz. I am a full-time chemical engineer, working in a manufacturing plant. More importantly, I am a lifelong lover of math and science. More accurately, I am a 100% geek. Put whatever you want in front of it – math-geek, science-geek, music-geek, theatre-geek, board game-geek – I am EXTREMELY passionate about a lot of things.

That being said, I wouldn’t have loved math and science as much as I do just from my teachers at school. I was lucky enough to have an amazing tutor outside of school from grade 5 until I graduated high school that went above and beyond the normal school topics. He taught me to LOVE math contests and actually get pretty good at them (did you know you could get medals for MATH?!); he shared his love of astronomy with me (did anyone else see the recent super moon????); but most importantly he would teach me math in a way that made it relevant to me. He taught me that before Pythagoras existed, Ancient Egyptians would use knotted rope to create the right angles needed when building the pyramids using known ratios (later known as Pythagorean Triples). And in an unforgettable moment, he brought this demonstration to my house, and almost got my entire living room wet – but to this day I can recall the formulas for spheres, cones and cylinders without hesitation!

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I am hoping through these semi-regular blog posts that I can bring some relevant news or related topics to your attention to help get YOU excited about math and science! I’ll even talk about my work, what I’m getting excited about day-to- day, and I can even answer questions!

Stay tuned, and get excited for this collaboration!!!

Books We Love: "Rosie Revere, Engineer" and "Ada Twist, Scientist"

The CRAZIEST thing happened to me the other day. While strolling by the Mt. Pleasant bookstore Mable’s Fables, I stopped in my tracks at the sight of a beautiful window display showcasing children’s books that promote women in STEM. For me, the existence and promotion of “Rosie Revere, Engineer”, and “Ada Twist, Scientist”, in the window of Mable’s Fables is one of the biggest advancements in the field of women in STEM since, like, EVER and I could not be more excited to feature information about these books and their author on this week’s TMG blog.

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Andrea Beaty is a total super-star talent; prior to writing children’s books, Beaty attended school in Illinois where she studied Biology and Computer Science. After that, Beaty worked at a computer software company where she helped people with their computer problems and worked loosely as a technical writer (which proved to be great training for writing children’s literature). Not only is Beaty a talented children’s author, her background in STEM demonstrates that there is no such thing as a math or science mind. Thus, Beaty’s interest in multiple disciplines proves the TMG philosophy that there’s no such thing as a “math person” to be true.

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Beaty’s “Rosie Revere, Engineer”, tells the story of a little girl named Rosie and her dream to become a world-class engineer. Rosie is starry-eyed—she views both ordinary and unordinary objects with great wonder and sets out to turn said objects into great inventions. In this work, Rosie fears failure and is guided (as a child should be), to celebrate her creative mind. Not only does the book praise Rosie’s willingness to invent and become an engineer, when her first invention fails she is encouraged to try again because the only true failure is to quit. Rosie’s story is one that should be emulated by us all—we should all strive to create new things despite the fear of failure and, in the face of failure, continue to create.

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Not only is Beaty the author of “Rosie Revere, Engineer”, she is the author of a slew of other children’s books including “Ada Twist, Scientist”. The themes present in “Rosie Revere, Engineer”, are continuously present in that of “Ada Twist, Scientist”; curiosity is privileged, perseverance is emphasized, and girl-power is demonstrated at every turn.

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TMG loves these books by Andrea Beaty as they teach children lessons that we try to instill in our students. So, remember: you have the power to create whatever you wish and face your fears because the sky is the limit! For more information on the author and her amazing books check out www.andreabeaty.com

#MyBeautyMySay

#mybeautymysay I have so much love for Dove's latest #MyBeautyMySay campaign that I wanted to share a story of my own. So here goes.

They said it was strange that a pretty girl like me wanted to be a math teacher.

I said, this ain't 1942. I'm confused. I was confused. I still am confused.

I was finishing my teaching degree, excited about the possibility of changing the world. I don't mean that in a dramatic way, I mean it literally. I was going to step inside classrooms and empower teenagers to do anything - to actually understand that they could do ANYTHING they wanted. And I was going to do that through math. If there was one thing I knew, it was that feeling stupid was one of the worst feelings in the world. And feeling as though I was inherently stupid (as many girls are made to feel, especially when it comes to M-A-T-H) made me feel powerless, lost, hopeless. That's why it was so important for me to become a teacher. I mean, there were tons of reasons, but the main one was that: to give teenagers a voice and to help them power the engine behind that voice. Through knowledge. Through understanding and finally believing that we - they - have the potential to do absolutely anything. Even math.

So there I was, heading into my first day of practice teaching, pumped and ready to change lives. I walked right into the math department and giddily announced to the first person I saw that I was a student teacher. And that's when it happened. This grouchy old math teacher - the kind they use in movies when they want to portray a stereotype of "THE grouchy old math teacher" - looked me up and down and asked: "what's a pretty girl like you doing becoming a math teacher?"

I laughed at first. But then I realized that he was serious. Like actually SERIOUS. I smiled politely and asked him just as seriously, if it was 1942. He didn't laugh. He didn't get it.

It didn't matter. That day I walked into the classroom and made it mine. Years later I still stay in touch with the students I had that very first teaching assignment, and I know that they built their engines, found their voices. Years later, people STILL give me strange looks and tell me that I don't 'look like a math teacher.' Try being in a rock band and teaching math in the same body - people don't get it and I don't get what they don't get! I'm glad that grouchy old math teacher gave me the extra fuel, the extra motivation, to make a real, tangible change. A change that will one day mean that no girl grows up thinking she's too pretty to be a math teacher, and that no boy grows up thinking that gender has anything to do with whether or not you can crunch numbers LIKE A BOSS.

I may not look like the math teachers you've seen in movies or IRL, but I look like me. I am a math teacher. This ain't 1942.

#MyBeautyMySay

 

Feminism & Factoring: Our Fave F Words!

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In case you don't know yet, I am obsessed OBSESSED with media representations of women and math. That's my thing. The way that the media portrays women who enjoy math is, in my opinion, largely responsible for the lack of women who WANT (read: do not want) to pursue math - and that needs to be changed. I'm not the only one who feels this way, and hey, the way the media portrays women in general sucks sometimes. Just look at Mean Girls, the fan fave that teaches girls that in order to impress a guy that you need to totally dumb yourself down to the point of sacrificing academic success! Well, this fab group may not be particularly focused on the portrayal of women and MATH, but are they zoomed in on the portrayal of women and intelligence? Hell yes! A group of amazing women have started a little something called "Drunk Feminist Films" and it's a super chill (and fun) way to dissect and diss films that portray women as anything other than fabulous.

The solution to the media's nonsense isn't necessarily to just bitch and cry. Why not "get tipsy while lovingly berating (movies) for (their) depictions of female passivity and disempowerment"?

Be a part of it all and help change the way we consume the messages the media feeds us: show up to Toronto's Revue Cinema tonight for a screen & shout of Bring it On! A-mazing.

xoxo

 

Math Could Be Cool: A STEMinist Perspective

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  Fact 1: Miley Cyrus isn’t out there touting her love for all things STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in between twerks.

Fact 2: teenage girls are watching her gyrate her way across the globe, hungrily gulping down everything she does. The science is simple: teenagers eat up popular culture, and media sources simply aren’t serving them anything that makes math and science remotely appetizing – in fact, quite the opposite.

The Scoop

Early in October, The Globe and Mail published Educators still trying to attract more women to technology, science fields, which sums up the key point: girls are just as mathematically inclined as their male counterparts, yet their participation in post-secondary STEM programs is dismal at best. Why? Today the ‘nature’ argument is long gone. We can no longer argue that boys are better at math and science – in 7 out of 10 provinces, the opposite is true! That leaves us with ‘nurture.’ Authors Hammer and Alphonso suggest several plausible reasons that girls might be discouraged from pursuing STEM, including the fact that “girls in North America view high-tech and engineering fields as nerdy, for people who don’t have good social skills.” They have hit the nail on the head.

I see hundreds of teenagers weekly at The Math Guru, a tutoring studio I founded to make STEM fun, accessible, and, most importantly, cool. Why? After years of research, I found that the main reason girls opt out is because of the reputation STEM has. Girls have told me point blank that they would rather flunk math class than be known as “that girl.” For high school students, the dearth of job opportunities for those without a math and science background is nothing compared to the perils of being labeled a (gasp!) nerd.

We’ve seen numerous initiatives attempt to get girls interested in STEM, showing them exciting career possibilities and the many ways math and science can be used in real life. But let’s face it: function is not what coolness is made of. Ideally, Hollywood would do its part and create more multi-dimensional female protagonists. I wholeheartedly congratulate ER and Grey’s Anatomy for the increase in women who have opted for med school over the past decade – after all, who can resist the possibility of an emergency room encounter with the likes of McDreamy? Unfortunately, we have little say in what version of ‘cool’ gets pumped out of the 90210 factory next, so to win girls over we need to do our part to counter Hollywood’s negative stereotyping.

Grassroots: What Can WE Do?

While we can’t necessarily tweak Miley’s twerk, we can promote role models such as Natalie Portman and Emma Watson who wear their intelligence with pride.  We can use media literacy in our math and science classrooms to help teenagers deconstruct media messaging in order to understand the consequences of the disempowering stereotypes they are being sold. We can begin to examine our schools and the messages they send to young women regarding math and science. We can begin to wonder whether more interactive approaches are needed in the classroom and whether academic environments in which STEM learning takes place really need to be as unfriendly and antisocial as they often are.

The teenagers that thrive with me every day endlessly comment on how much they love being in a space where math and science do not simply exist in a nerd-vacuum, and how happy they are to be able to be themselves while being intelligent. That, to me, says it all. If we can find a way to allow coolness and intelligence to coexist rather than repel one another, we will begin to see a generation of teenage girls as enthusiastic about STEM as they are about the latest pop culture wrecking ball.

Why wait? Start now!

There are so many creative ways that we can all be a part of changing STEM culture - Check out the following list of people who are already changing the equation, and get inspired!

1. Team "We Made It": Earlier this year I had the absolute honour of attending the web launch for wemadeit, a site dedicated to making engineering an accessible choice that girls can actually imagine for themselves. The site was made for high school girls by high school girls and is super innovative and straight up COOL. Share it with a teenager you know and help them see engineering from a different perspective!

2. Danica McKellar: Best known for her role as Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years (ahhh the memories!), Danica has been a huge proponent of making math accessible and attractive to young women. She totally comes from the same camp as I do, believing that media stereotypes give math a bad reputation and that it is up to us to market math to girls in a way that speaks to them. She has an awesome book series aimed at teaching girls math in a lexicon they can actually understand - it's awesome, check it out!

3. GoldieBlox: Marketed as "toys that give girls confidence in problem solving," GoldieBlox is aimed at fostering girls' problem solving skills and showing them just how awesome engineering can be! Most recently, GoldieBlox revealed a new doll, Goldie, who actually has limbs that MOVE (sorry Barbie, you may have won the battle but...)! Goldie comes with a 9-meter zip line kit that kids can build - HOW cool is that?! Not convinced? Watch Goldieblox's viral video, guaranteed to give you goosebumps!

4. Roominate: As seen on ABC's Shark Tank, Roominate is DIY dollhouse kit to the power of awesome! Roominate allows kids to design and build furniture and entire STRUCTURES, and helps them totally perfect their spatial skills! Roominate has won a ton of awards for being an innovative toy in terms of encouraging STEM development - so cool, I want!

5. Think About Math: Every year I run a workshop at The University of Waterloo's Think About Math! (TAM) conference for Grade 9 girls. TAM is designed to get girls excited about math and my workshop focuses on breaking down media stereotypes surrounding STEM & Femininity - it's basically a makeover - for math! The application period begins in February - I know that's forever away, but it's never too early to start dreaming big! For more info, click here!