Ad Seeks to Explain Why Girls Stray From STEM

By Liana Loewus — June 16, 2014 1 min read
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A poignant new ad from tech giant Verizon suggests that how adults (ahem, parents) speak to young girls helps to explain the lack of women in STEM-focused careers.

Part of a larger campaign highlighting the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the ad shows a series of scenes in which a young girl named Sam is praised for being “pretty” and dissuaded from getting her hands dirty. Her innate interest in exploration and building seems destined to wane. In the final moment, she stops to look at a science fair poster, then applies lip gloss and walks away.

The promo, below, finishes with the following stat: “66 percent of girls say they like science and math. But only 18 percent of all college engineering majors are female.”

The video is likely to touch a nerve for parents of girls—especially since all the dissuasion comes from Sam’s mom and dad. However, it may also touch a nerve with those who don’t see doing science and wearing makeup as at odds.

In addition, the Verizon promo calls to mind the advertisement for GoldieBlox—a toy company that makes engineering and construction kits geared toward girls—that aired at the Super Bowl and went viral.

Though both ads take aim at the societal push for girls to be “pretty,” Verizon used a more melancholy emotional appeal, while GoldieBlox went with the girl-power approach.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.