International Women's Day is an opportunity to celebrate women's accomplishments and look critically at persisting issues of gender inequality. One area that deserves such critiquing is the STEM industry, where women are under-appreciated, overlooked, underrepresented, and discriminated against with regularity -- even though they are responsible for some of the most important inventions to date.
But in a new campaign, #MakeWhatsNext, Microsoft wants to change that.
The company released a video yesterday that gets to the root of why STEM fields are so problematic for women: education. Watch it here:
In the video, future scientists are asked to name famous inventors. The usual suspects -- Albert Einstein, Alexander Bell Graham, Thomas Edison -- are named right off the bat.
But when the young girls are asked to name a woman inventor, they all draw a blank, thus proving that when we teach young students about the history of innovation, women are left out of the story.
The video then features a montage of famous women and their inventions -- like Sarah Mather who invented the underwater telescope and Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer.
A statement on the Microsoft website summarizes the campaign:
This International Women's Day, we're celebrating women inventors, how they've changed the world, and are inspiring the next generation.
Microsoft is encouraging young women to #MakeWhatsNext with its YouthSpark initiative, a movement that, by partnering with schools, non-profits and other community organizations, creates access to computer science resources and education programs for students.
The video proves that having powerful female role models cultivates enthusiasm and motivation for young women, and demonstrates the importance of quality, well-rounded and accurate education across the board.