Getting Girls into Tech through Cartoons

Getting Girls into Tech through Cartoons

The lack of women in technical fields is getting a lot of press lately. It’s also getting a new cartoon, Purple and Nine, dreamed up by two women who have been working in the technology field for the last twenty years.

Why a cartoon, of all things?

“Our image of what we can and can’t do starts at an early age,” says Rebecca Rachmany, CEO and co-founder of Gangly Sister. “When I was growing up, I read comic books, and I wanted to be just like Superman and Batman and Aquaman. Fortunately, my parents were OK with the fact that I’m a bit weird. But most girls don’t look at boy superheroes. They are looking at Barbie and Bratz. They are looking at Beyonce and Brittney. We’d like to have more choices for our girls.”

Gangly Sister’s first production is targeted at girls ages 8 through 12, because that’s an age where developmentally, girls have grown out of the mode of pink princesses but aren’t yet interested in boys. Classic stories like Pippi Longstocking are based on girls at this age, because developmentally, this is when children are most open to exploring new possibilities and trying out different identities.

“We realized ourselves that we grew up being told not to take risks, to get the right answers, and that certain fields of studies were more masculine. We want to provide an alternative for girls that isn’t pink and prissy,” says Rachmany.

The story line revolves around two girls, named Purple and Nine. The girls use different kinds of technology to address different problems. The show doesn’t provide information on how to use technology, so it’s not an educational program per se, but rather one that explores different ideas.

Today, children feel comfortable around technology, whether it’s a new app on their phone or high-tech sports equipment. The series simply expands on what children are doing today, and takes the stigma away from using technology.

“Our world today has serious problems, like global warming, disease, and inequality. Many of these issues will be resolved by new technologies, so it’s absolutely critical that all of our young people have the opportunity to explore whether a career in technology is interesting to them,” says Rachmany. “It sounds grandiose, but I really do believe that as a race, humans simply can’t afford to miss out on half the ideas, because kids think that technology is difficult or boring. I think technology is fun. All I’m trying to do now is to make it fun and accessible for kids as well.”