Today in juvenile patriarchy news, a boy (ew) ended up winning a tech competition that’s part of a program meant for girls.
The U.K.-based EDF Energy has a campaign called Pretty Curious (nice) that encourages girls (per their site) to “stay curious about the world around them, and continue pursuing science-based subjects at school and in their careers.”
According to BBC, EDF put together a Pretty Curious Challenge and, instead of sticking to the aforementioned message, they opened the competition up to allow boys to participate, “in the interests of fairness”:
Children were asked to think of ideas for a connected home bedroom product.
EDF said that while its Pretty Curious programme is still aimed at girls, the UK competition was later opened up to all 11 to 16-year-olds.
Over 200 applicants submitted ideas, but a boy scored the top prize for coming up with something called a Pad Generator:
The winner’s idea was for a games controller which harnesses kinetic energy from thumb action using wind-up triggers.
Three of the four runners-up, whose ideas included smart curtains, a smart fridge and a sleep monitor, were submitted by girls.
The competition results confused a lot of people who thought the whole purpose was to push young girls to pursue opportunities in science, tech, engineering and math.
However, EDF says there’s a distinction between the challenge and the overall Pretty Curious campaign, which seems like a strange disconnect.
An advocate for women in Stem, Suw Charman-Anderson (the founder of Ada Lovelace Day) told BBC the entire campaign was flawed in the first place, starting with the name “Pretty Curious.”
“EDF Energy chose to link appearance and interest in Stem through the title of their campaign, despite many people pointing out that it was demeaning to girls,” she says. “EDF Energy have failed to understand both the nature of the problem [of women in Stem] and the negative impacts that their publicity stunt may well have on girls who took part with genuine enthusiasm and excitement.”
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