Inspire Her Mind

“66% of 4th grade girls say they like science and math, but only 18% of all college engineering majors are female.” This statement is projected at the very end of Verizon’s commercial which was released in June 2014 entitled “Inspire Her Mind”. The commercial brings to light the struggles that girls face when they show interest in careers and fields of study that are dominated by men. Girls are told that they can’t be good at, or try to succeed in scientific and mathematic fields such as engineering.

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This video represents the keyword “gender” by exploiting the way in which girls are discouraged from pursuing certain types of careers involving more “masculine” forms of work. The essay in Keywords For Children’s Literature on gender written by Erica Hateley says, “children’s texts ‘presented boys in fiction as movers, doers, explorers, adventurers, creatures of action, guile, mischief, intellect, and leadership. It presented girls as tag-alongs, subordinate to boys initiative and daring, relatively docile, passive, emotional, and unimaginative;’” (87). We can see these behaviors represented in the commercial. The mom in the video tells her daughter that she’s too passionate about her science project, and her dad tells her to be careful and let her brother use the drill. Towards the end, the daughter looks at a flyer for the science fair, showing some interest, but puts on lip gloss and walks away instead of looking into it further.

Little House on the Prairie also shows the stereotypical gender roles of women’s work. We see Laura, a tomboy, showing interest in adventure and action, Ma however, discourages these sorts of behaviors and gives Mary and Laura more “feminine” things to do such as cooking, cleaning, and taking care of baby Carrie. Women have always struggled to escape from their gender roles in the workplace. Commercials such as “Inspire Her Mind” by Verizon make a huge statement towards encouraging girls to pursue their true passions instead of what society has deemed as “feminine work”.

6 thoughts on “Inspire Her Mind”

  1. I really thought your post was interesting as I too have realized the uneven ratio of men and women in science or math related studies. My cousin went to Michigan Tech for college and she said it was often when she had only three other girls in her discussion classes. Michigan Tech, a college known for its engineering program has a men to women ration of 3 to 1. I think this video made by Verizon will be eye-opening to parents to let their kids study what their interested, not what is stereotypical to society.

  2. We can also see the resistance to girls acting in ways considered “masculine” in Little Women. Jo often does things her mother and sisters look down upon “tomboy-ish” (like racing and whistling) and tell her she should act like a proper lady. Rather than being encouraged to be unique and do things that make her happy and comfortable, her family would prefer she present herself as “feminine” because that is what society expects of a girl her age if she is ever to be married off and supported economically by a husband. While not to this extreme, we still see gender expectations everywhere in society today.

  3. I really enjoyed the way you brought in your “Cool Thing” and incorporated it in Little House on the Prairie. Why do you think our society does this? I think that many people nowadays are leaning away form that more and more. I discussed this with my mom a few weeks ago and she mentioned that at a young age, she was forced to do the “girl”/”gender” roles. If you look at today though, many girls at a young age aren’t necessarily forced to do those things anymore. I personally believe society is starting to accept women that are interested in becoming an engineer or a “masculine job”. In fact, many engineering firms are looking to hire women because not many women are going to be engineers.

  4. I love the Verizon commercial; it’s so cool and inspiring. I think another example similar to this could be Jo in “Little Women.” She is sometimes chastised for being too “boyish,” seemingly always by Meg and not their mother. Marmee, as well as the girls’ father, seems to adore Jo for her manly tendencies, but are also pleased when she seems to outgrow them. There have always been, and it seems that there always will be, expectations for females, and it is whether or not people are willing to forget these expectations that matters.

  5. It is definitely a growing idea, that we should be encouraging young girls to get involved in the STEM field. I know that there was a children/pre-teen show released on Netflix, called Project MC2, that focuses on 4 girls who are into science and math. The main focus of this is to try and show girls that stuff in the STEM field can be fun and interesting. I find it really important to encourage girls to do this. I think that it is even really relevant on this campus. If you take a engineering or math based class, there are often way more males than females. I hope that in the future we can see more girls in STEM fields, and maybe the new trends in social media, and television shows will encourage girls.

  6. I think that this advertisement is powerful in portraying the way that family and friends can impact a girls choice to pursue a STEM field. I do however have one issue with this advertisement and that is the statistic that they put at the end. “66% of 4th grade girls say they like science and math. But only 18% of all college engineering majors are female.” Don’t get me wrong I agree with the fact that there is a disparity in gender representation in STEM fields, but this statistic compares apples and oranges. The first statistic refers to a percentage of total females interested in science and math, while the second is a percentage of females from the total population involved specifically in engineering. I see how both of these statistics are powerful on their own, but they cannot be compared. I believe Verizon could have made a stronger advertisement by not using a statistical fallacy while attempting to present the gender disparity within STEM fields.

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