How female role models inspired our student company

Olivia McConnell writes on behalf of her company, Mercury, about creating Puzzlette, a double-sided jigsaw puzzle and board game, designed by the students of today for the students of tomorrow.

Young Enterprise, an educational charity here in the UK, allows thousands of students annually to create a company. This academic year, my 24 team members and I have been on an unforgettable and invaluable journey. It has given us a chance to venture into the unknown world of business and emerge having both created a product that educates young girls and developed a wealth of knowledge and experience.

Whilst our team spent time brainstorming product ideas, we were dismayed to discover the detrimental impact of the pandemic on the progression of the feminist movement. Despite lockdowns easing around the world, many experts believe there will be a long-term impact on women’s work and home lives as a result of COVID-19. A recent United Nations study warned that the pandemic could dilute decades of the advancement of gender equality, as women are placed back into traditional domestic roles due to nationwide orders to social distance. Anita Bhatia, a UN Women director, warned of the ripple effect of women not returning to work, coupled with the growing gap as women spend more and more hours on housework compared to men.

By investigating this further, we educated ourselves about the importance of female role models. When it comes to young people pursuing their ambitions, seeing is believing. This idea applies particularly for traditionally male-dominated industries, such as STEM, where women make up less than a third of the workforce. The importance of inspiration is supported by research carried out by Microsoft , which found that 20% more UK girls can imagine a career in STEM if they have a role model compared to those who don’t. The Female Lead’s book ‘The Female Lead: Women Who Shape Our World’ was sent to our school in 2018 and exposure to a wide spectrum of role models has motivated our Tiffin Girls’ community.

From this research, our mission was clear: to bring an inclusive range of inspiring female figures safely to young girls at home in an entertaining and interactive way, and with this Puzzlette was born.

Puzzlette is a double-sided puzzle and board game featuring seven female role models. On one side is a graphic of women from all over the world, covering many different types of careers. On the other, a trivia-based family board game with question cards to help the player piece together the past of these women- with a pinch of jeopardy for good measure! As a team of diverse girls with unique aspirations for the future, we recognise the importance of acknowledging young people’s own distinct identities and dreams. The chosen role models are:

● Billie Jean King, tennis player.
● Frida Kahlo, painter.
● Greta Thunberg, environmental activist.
● Katherine Johnson, NASA mathematician.
● Malala Yousafzai, female education activist.
● Maya Angelou, civil rights activist and poet.
● Vivienne Westwood, fashion designer and businesswoman.

 

The name ‘Puzzlette’ encapsulates our target audience of young girls, who are central to our company. We wanted to use our product to give a voice to local young girls, so we decided to print their words across our product. To do this, we sent a survey round to friends, family and fellow students to gather feedback as to how the seven icons inspire them. We received responses from pupils of a variety of ages, who told us, “Malala inspired me by proving that anyone can make a difference if they are fighting for something they believe in” and “Greta Thunberg’s passion for protecting the Earth is inspirational and provides hope for the future”. These powerful messages were printed onto the background of our product and our team believe that they reflect the impact of female role models on girls.

From planning to producing, we students created our product and couldn’t be more proud of our progress. Here at Mercury, we were fuelled by our passion for the legacy of so many inspiring women. Through celebrating these role models, we hope to inspire the women of the future to pursue their dreams and to #ChooseToChallenge the paucity of women occupying top job positions.

For more information about our company, or how you can buy our product, please visit our website and follow us on Twitter and Instagram!

 

References
https://www.un.org/en/un-coronavirus-communications-team/gender-equality-time-covid-19
https://ngcproject.org/statistics
https://3er1viui9wo30pkxh1v2nh4w-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/prod/sites/68/2018/04/180417_UK_GIS_Role_Models_EXTERNAL-DESIGNED.pdf