Have you seen this amazing video by GoldieBlox? It’s a fun commercial, one hopefully destined for Super Bowl airtime, in which three little girls jerry-rig an entire house. What spurs them to do this? A boring TV ad selling “girly stuff” – like make up and princess clothes. And probably a pink baking set and a mini stroller. Not “girly stuff” like hammers, weight lifting, and/or science experiments.
GoldieBlox’s mission is to “get girls building” and level the playing field for women in math, science and engineering through new kinds of toys. They point out that only 10% of engineers today are women and they’re trying to do something about it. “The Trouble With Bright Girls,“ in Psychology Today even digs into why smart girls are likely to give up when learning gets tough.
Speaking of which, Swedish cinemas recently created a new feminist movie rating. The only way to get a good grade in the system is to have at least two female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man. As the article points out, “The entire ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, all ‘Star Wars’ movies, ‘The Social Network,’ ‘Pulp Fiction’ and all but one of the ‘Harry Potter’ movies fail this test.”
It wasn’t that long ago that I was at the Beyond Sport Summit, where the top-ranking female executive in baseball, Jean Afterman, said “between two equal applicants in her field, the man will get the job.” [Read “Dear Mr. Shen”]
Most fields have moved past overt sexism. But what about the sneaky, silent factors that can still make or break women’s careers? The New York Times recently dove into why women still aren’t leaders in science, advice from female CEOs (hint: “don’t cry”), as well as the gender equity problem faced by Harvard Business School.
Anne-Marie Slaughter made waves with last year’s article, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” Among many other things, she points out that women are still shouldering the majority of household work in addition to full-time careers. Adding insult to injury, a study in the Harvard Business Review found that men’s self-esteem drops when their female partners succeed.
That’s a lot to take in. Personally, the only thing I did about the situation today was to vote for GoldieBlox to get Super Bowl ad time. They’re already finalists, and I would love to see this at halftime instead of the millionth commercial of half-clad women getting excited about a man who drinks his lite beer cold. Those ads may not be as subtle, but at this point, they’re equally tiresome.