girls

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!

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs&t=97s[/embed]

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!

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DdM-4siaQw[/embed]

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.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQ3k6BFX2uw[/embed]

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.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3BjUvjOUMc[/embed]

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!

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XOa7zVqxA4[/embed]

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!

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!