When is the last time you saw young girls playing with toy cars on a TV commercial? If you thought, I honestly don’t know, you’re not the only one. According to the National Science Board, women only represent 29% of the current science and engineering workforce, a figure that translates to what young girls are exposed to in their formative years. While social stereotypes are changing, the majority of the world still equals pink and dolls to girls and blue and cars to boys. That’s why Mercedes-Benz USA and Mattel decided they needed to do their part to not only challenge outdated tropes, but also empower girls to realize the opportunities available to them.
Earlier this year, the car company released the video (see below) on gender stereotypes that racked up millions of views almost instantly. In the two-minute clip, first-grade girls are given various toys to play with and asked why they didn’t choose a toy car. From “that’s for boys, not for girls” to “that’s a boy toy,” the young girls explain why they didn’t give certain toys a second thought. Only when they are introduced to Ewy Rosqvist, a Swedish racing champion who made history for being the first woman to enter and win one of the toughest rallies in the world—the Argentinian Grand Prix—did they realize how they were limiting their choices—and future. Watch (and warning, expect emotions):
Mercedes-Benz partnered with Matchbox to make Ewy’s car into a toy version and gift it to girls all over the country. Now, on National STEM/STEAM Day, both companies have announced that 50,000 young girls across the nation will not only get toy cars, but will engage in programs tied to science, technology, engineering and math to challenge gender stereotypes.
Mercedes-Benz also released an updated version of the widely-shared video, and announced that their “No Limits” program will launch special workshops in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and New York City. From now until February 2020, girls across the U.S. through more than 100 organizations will engineer toy racetracks, design cars, engage with female role models and attend STEM workshops through programs designed to expand how they see their future.
“Whatever they aspire to be, we want all children to dream big, dream bold and never give up on that dream,” says Mark Aikman, general manager of marketing services for Mercedes-Benz US. “We’ve seen that stories like Ewy’s – championing women trailblazers and achievers – can have a big impact by calling into question the gender stereotypes that children may inadvertently adopt.”
The Ewy Rosqvist Matchbox toy replica will be sold in stores nationwide beginning in December. For more information and a list of participating organizations in the “No Limits” campaign, click here.