With science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) initiatives gaining traction in education, more companies are taking a unique approach to address the gender gap in these fields. One such company is taking a tried-and-true toy, the doll, and combining it with today’s mobile-first technology to encourage girls to build their STEM skills and pursue related careers.
Miss Possible is a company that creates dolls for young girls based on real, female role models. Girls are encouraged to engage with the Miss Possible mobile app, which includes an illustrated storybook about each role model’s life and activities in her respective field. The current focus is on STEM, but the Miss Possible team hopes to expand their dolls into journalism, entrepreneurship, design and other fields.
We recently interviewed Supriya Hobbs, CEO and co-founder, and Kelly Lin, lead product designer, to learn how Miss Possible came to be and why they want to bring STEM to more young girls.
What was the initial inspiration behind Miss Possible?
Supriya: My cofounder and I were engineering students at the University of Illinois and were surprised to find ourselves in the minority as women in our classes. We started talking to our female peers about what prompted them to study engineering and found that relatable role models and early exposure are critical to girls’ career choices. Miss Possible seeks to combine these two themes into one offering that shows that the possibilities are limitless, and demonstrates how to get there.
Who are some examples of the women you’ve re-imagined into dolls, and what do you hope girls will get out of playing with them?
Kelly: Our first doll shows a young version of Nobel Prize-winning chemist and physicist, Marie Curie. Coming up soon, you’ll see dolls of Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman to earn an international pilot’s license, and Ava Lovelace, the woman credited with creating the first computer algorithm.
Supriya: We are choosing to feature as diverse a group of women as possible, so girls with many different backgrounds, interests and stories can find someone among our role models whose story resonates with them.
What are your criteria in selecting which historical women to model your dolls after?
Supriya: We want to feature women who did something exceptional and made big contributions to the world. We’re finding women with interesting stories from many different fields and backgrounds, so girls from all walks of life can find relatable characters amongst our dolls and their stories.
What’s next for Miss Possible?
Supriya: Product development and delivery are our top priorities right now. We’re manufacturing Marie Curie and finishing developing the activities that accompany her doll. After that, we’ll start on the next dolls and expand our product offerings to grow Miss Possible’s collection of role models.
What other STEM initiatives encourage young minds to make their dreams a reality? Let me know on Twitter at @HeidiFlato.