McCann NY cites absurd theories in funny ads for non-profit Girls Who Code
Girls Who Code, the national non-profit working to close the gender gap in technology, today released a series of videos satirising stereotypes about why women are underrepresented in computer science. The videos present absurd theories for why girls “can’t” code, pointing to ridiculous reasons such as “they have boobs”, “they menstruate,” and “they’re beautiful.” With their funny and provocative tone, the videos are designed to spark conversation about unconscious bias and reclaim stereotypes related to gender and appearance that have been used to exclude women from traditionally male-dominated fields like technology. The videos were produced in partnership with McCann NY.
By the time they reach college, women make up fewer than 1 in 5 computer science graduates. The gender gap in technology starts in adolescence, when teenage girls rank computing and engineering as some of the least interesting professions. Several studies cite negative stereotypes and media portrayals of coders as nerdy and male as top reasons why young women lose interest.
Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, said: “There are already a ton of inspirational videos about why girls should code. We wanted to try something different and use humour and satire to question the stereotypes that tell our girls that coding is not for them. Our hope is these videos will spark a much-needed conversation about the messages we send our young women and what we can do to create a more inclusive, well-rounded image of a programmer.”
Priti Kapur, McCann NY’s Executive Creative Director, said: “When the girls themselves verbalise the biases it becomes abundantly clear just how ridiculous it is. The notion that being a woman is somehow a disadvantage for coding is so deeply ingrained in society that you almost need to hear it out loud to realise how crazy it is.” Susan Young, Group Creative Director on the campaign, added: “There’s also the notion that girls can’t appreciate this kind of humour – also a ridiculous stereotype.”
Margot Richaud, a Girls Who Code alumna, said: “These videos may seem absurd, but sadly they’re not so off the mark. As a high school senior, I’ve had classmates and teachers tell me that coding is not for me, or that I’d be better off focusing on design and making something look ‘pretty’. These comments, plus the stereotypes that we see everyday of a coder as a nerdy guy in a hoodie, keep a lot of my friends from considering computer science as a career path. We need to change that and stop telling girls that coding is not for us. There is never be an excuse for a girl to not code.”
In addition to these satirical videos, Girls Who Code has also released a YouTube series, “My Code”, about learning how to code from the perspective of four Girls Who Code alumnae. The weekly series airs every Thursday on YouTube.