Hopping on the “fempowerment” bandwagon next is Verizon, with a TV spot called
“Inspire Her Mind”.
The video shows young girls stomping through forests, finding starfish on the beach, and helping their brothers with a drill. In voiceover, their parents tell them not to get their dress dirty, not to touch the starfish, and to give the drill to their brothers. The result: when the same young girl looks at a science poster at school, she looks away and puts on some lip gloss instead. The screen reads:
66% of 4th grade girls say they like math and science.
But only 18% of all college engineering majors are female.
The ad, which ends with typical lounge-room music and a preachy voiceover, patently makes the point that if your daughter doesn’t go to engineering school, it’s your own damn fault.
Of course there are parents who prod their daughters towards staying safe and pretty, but that surely doesn’t account for the many fun, liberal parents who not only encourage them to climb higher, but also bark at them to do their freaking algebra homework and bring home an A.
(I felt defensive about my parents, because my mother taught me how to pick up earthworms on twigs, and my father always managed to rope me into changing the oil or wiring the TV antenna with him.)
The statistics at the end are well-intentioned, but address a small and less-important part of a much larger problem: a lack of institutional support, rather than parental support, hinders women from having technical careers.