Microsoft won a prestigious Silver Lion at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity on Wednesday in the Cyber category of the competition for the company’s #MakeWhatsNext campaign that celebrates and encourages girls and women to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
The campaign broke in early March – to coincide with International Women’s Day – with broadcast, online/digital, social media and events. The centerpiece of the campaign was a 60-second digital video with three 15-second companion videos that showed girls learning about women scientists and inventors. The “hero” digital video stars real girls talking about their love of science. But when they are asked to name famous inventors, none of them can name a woman. The ad continues with historical footage of 13 prominent women inventors, scientists and creators.
The campaign highlights a deep gap in cultural understanding of women in science. The World Economic Forum projects that the gender gap in computer science will not close until the year 2133.
In the first video, three of the 13 women inventors and scientists profiled are Yvonne Brill, a rocket scientist; Ada Lovelace, a mathematician who was also known as the inventor of the computer algorithm; and Tabitha Babbitt, a toolmaker and inventor, who created the circular saw. Each of these women stars in one of three 15-second versions of the campaign.
The campaign was created by m:United//McCann. It launched simultaneously digitally in more than 35 languages and over 90 countries.
Microsoft is not just encouraging girls to become more involved; it also launched new YouthSpark programs around the world, and created an online hub for inspiration and involvement at www.makewhatsnext.com.
Microsoft also announced a patent program that will give select female inventors support in patenting their ideas. The idea is to address the reality that women hold only 7 percent of patents and just 15 percent of inventors in the U.S. are female.
The campaign is an evolution of its “Girls Do Science” campaign in 2015.