2014 NCWIT Summit - Special Announcement, DevelopHER Toy Challenge

RUTHE FARMER: Carrie Van Heyst and Andrea Guendelman. [audience applauding]

ANDREA GUENDELMAN: I don't see very much, but... Welcome to a kick off event for DevelopHer Toy and Game Challenge. I'm Andrea Guendelman. Carrie Van Heyst and I co-founded DevelopHer Challenge to help build the earliest stage of the pipeline for woman entering technology fields. Focusing on the earliest stage of the pipeline, young girls, will ensure that more girls and women study Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, and in middle school--[laughs] [cell phone rings] That's technology, that's what we're here about. Will help ensure that more girls and women study Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math in middle school, in high school, in college, and beyond. Ultimately it will mean that more women will start technology careers. DevelopHer Toy and Game Challenge will build out the first stage of the pipeline with educational toys and games that engage girls, and help them build spacial reasoning skills. Creating more STEM related toys for girls makes sure that we are investing in their future, but also in all of our futures. Carrie and I know that successful women investing in and mentoring the younger generation is important. Lucy Sanders who is here, and who made this happen, invested in us and in this Toy and Game Challenge. But we need more investment [laughs]. Basically, in all seriousness, she not only talks the talks, she walks the walk. And we're so grateful-- I don't know where she is because I have so much light. But we're so grateful for her support, and for her paying it forward. We're also grateful to have James Saltzman, who is the president of our board, joining us to help us carry this mission forward. Finally, I want to turn it over to Carrie Van Heyst, who also walks the walk. She worked at Bell Labs and she has been a pioneer in creating events that enlarge the technology and start of fields. So, welcome, and thank you Maria Bello too. [audience applauding]

CARRIE VAN HEYST: So, thank you everybody. Consider yourselves part of the official launch of the DevelopHer Toy and Game Challenge this afternoon. It's been nine months in the coming which seems both long and short. You had an earlier speaker who talked about framing what your project's about to try to give it some more human qualities and that's what I'm going to try to do here. To talk about the what, and the who with, and the why, and then I'll turn it over to Maria. Our what was when Andrea tried to go find a good chess set for her daughter, Beuleta, who's five, and she couldn't. She could not find a quality chess product for her daughter, and that was an "Ah-ha" moment for both of us. So we started to do the research. We started to go into the big-box store toy aisles, and we could really see what was going on. There needed to be more options. So our who with, of course we go to Lucy, who as Andrea says, "Walks the talk." Lucy decides, "Well I've gotta take this "to my board before I make a decision. "So I'm gonna give two board members a pro and a con." So she takes it to two of our friends, who sit on the board, Brad Feld and Christa Marks, and Christa takes the pro, and Brad takes the con and-- Sorry, reverse. Brad took the pro, and Christa took the con. And Christa knows a little bit about the toy business. She sold one of her companies to Disney, and she, of course, took Brad to task. So then Lucy had to take it upon herself to say, "Well, do I still go with these two women?" And, she did. So, here we are today at the 10th Anniversary, 10th Birthday of NCWIT. And, the why, really came to me again last weekend. I was at the store, and I ran into a friend, Ingrid Alongi, who is an engineer. She's actually got a Masters in Women's Studies, but she's a developer, and she owns a company, Quick Left. And she said, "Hey, Carrie, you know, I'm still getting on stage. "I'm still learning how to speak, it's great, "but I went to talk to some grade school girls, "out in a school in Aurora, and none of them knew "what computing was." [laughs] And so when you hear something like that, you realize this is why we're doing what we're doing, right? 'Cause everybody should know what the opportunities are, and should they decide to pursue them. So now, for our official announcement, I'm super pleased to bring onto the stage, Maria Bello, who you guys will all know/recognize from her work in acclaimed movies, such as Prisoners, The Cooler, Thank You For Smoking, The History Of Violence, Jane Austen, The Book Club, and more recently, Femme the movie, a documentary that she did with Sharon Stone. Ms. Bello is focused on the lives of women all over the place, for many decades, specifically in Haiti. And she serves as U.S. Global Ambassador for Women of Haiti, alongside former President Clinton and Nobel Prize winner, Muhammad Yunus. So without further ado, Maria, will you come join us? [audience applauding] [upbeat music]

MARIA BELLO: Thank you so much, Carrie. Thank you, Andrea. Thank you, Lucy. What an incredible, incredible event. I'm not really the biggest technologist in the world. I didn't even know what STEM was until I met my friend, Claire, so... But when I heard about this conference it's just amazing what you're doing. And, Emmanuel, you've created a movement with Femme, not only a movie, and thank you for introducing me to Andrea and DevelopHer. Where are the young women that just got honored? Congratulations! [applause] I mean... Not only are you an inspiration to other young girls, but you're an inspiration to my son. I want him to meet every single one of you. I'm not kidding, not only to date... [audience laughing] But also, because of the dedication and excitement you have around programming and computing. Because he loves video games, and, you know, if he would just get more into, right, he could make his own. Is that correct? I just figured that out. Anyway, congratulations again, and I'm so excited to be in a world where you're gonna be the leaders of our future. [audience applauding] And I'm honored tonight, in celebration of this 10th Anniversary, to read this letter from First Lady Michelle Obama. The White House, May 12th, 2014. "It is my pleasure to send my warmest greetings "to all those celebrating the 10 year Anniversary of the "National Center for Women and Information Technology. "For a decade, the National Center "for Women and Information Technology, "has worked diligently to encourage and equip "women and girls in the field of computing and technology. "By helping organizations recruit, retain, "and advance women in this field, "the National Center for Women and Information Technology "has helped develop the careers of Americans "across our nation, and generated lasting change "in countless organizations. "Your efforts have made a real impact "on both individuals and organizations, "and for that I'm incredibly grateful, "but our work to ensure equality in the field "of computing and technology is far from over. "We must continue to strive toward a future "that enables America's youth to succeed, "and that means encouraging young people, "especially girls, to go into technology and computing. "It is my firm belief that inspiring our next generation "to become interested and impassioned by this field of "study will lead our country to a better, brighter future. "I want to thank the National Center "for Women and Information Technology "for all you have done and will continue to do "for our next generation, and I wish you all the best "for an enjoyable and successful summit, Michelle Obama." [audience applauding] And tonight I'm going to tell you about an exciting, new initiative from DevelopHer, but before that I just have to laugh a little bit for the fact that I'm standing here. I'm not an engineer. I am rather challenged with any form of technology, as I said. The only Science I remember is from grade school was dissecting a pig. When my son asks me to help him with his Math homework, I have to pretend that I know what I'm talking about, but I really don't at all. So why's it important for me to... Why is STEM important to me, to encourage girls in this area? And the truth is when I look around me, even driving down the highway, and see a car I realize it's everywhere. Engineering, Science, Mathematics and Technology, everywhere we look in the job place today, everything around us has to do with STEM. As Dr. Michael Kimmel said in his excellent talk today, on gender equity, we need to engage men the same way as we need to engage girls and women. We need to become more engaged and understanding the areas where men have been, had the majority of power, because it's only through young women, and women like us, who are stepping forward, and stepping into those positions, and those leadership roles, that things are gonna change. So I'm proud to be launching, DevelopHer Toys and Game Challenge. As their intention is to create toys that girls will wish to play with, and yet ensure the toys help develop spacial logic and other analytical skills, critical to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. How they do this? I have no idea! But they certainly do know [laughs]. My son is obsessed with soccer, okay? Thankfully he's really good at it, 'cause I have to go to the middle of nowhere every single weekend, for hours at a time, to watch him play soccer. His number one thing to do at home is to play FIFA, a video game called FIFA. And when we asked him, "Do they have a girls' FIFA, "like a girls' soccer team?" He said, "Yeah, but girls don't really, you know, "girls don't really play games so much." So even for technology, for computing, for gaming, you know, what's a way to get young girls interested in that, as well? I'd love to know. So when I heard about a DevelopHer Toy Challenge, about actual toys that you could hold on to. When I heard Andrea's story about the chess set, and the board, I want to understand why I walk down a toy aisle in a store, and there's girls' section and the boys' section. Why everything's pink over here, why everything's blue over there? I could never understand it for my son either. So that has all been very puzzling to me. It intrigues me, what you're doing, and for empowering girls and women the way that you are. In fact, I find myself full, in the center, in an odd way, in this technology. New technology for women and girls. Co-founded by my, with Clare Munn, we have a project called, We Advance University. It's in beta stage, but it's to use technology to connect women all over Haiti and eventually women all over the world. So I'm learning a little bit about what you all do. If there's going to be intelligence-based toys and games created that are actually interesting to girls like me, who wanted to play dress up, watch old films, and play with Barbie dolls, then sign me up. There has to be room for all of us in this toy challenge. The rules of the challenge are very simple. One, you have to review new games and toys that help young girls develop their spacial reasoning and other skills necessary for the STEM field. Two, the challenge calls for toys that are educational and appealing. The challenge will put the DevelopHER stamp of approval on toys that build off research on how girls, and all children, learn. And three, of course, to succeed in their mission, those toys must also be fun. And with that, the DevelopHer Toy and Game Challenge is now on. Stay tuned in with DevelopHerChallenge.org for more information, but for now, we invite you to see the toys that we have selected for examples on display at the Community Reception. These provide models of the types of toys that they are looking for. Thank you, once again. Thank you for your inspiration, and congratulations. [applause]

LUCY SANDERS: Thank you, thank you. Alright, isn't that fun? Okay, the Community Reception is coming up next and this is your final, maybe it's not quite your final housekeeping slide, we might have one more. But really, go to the Community Reception. Have a lot of fun. Look at the toys. Some of these vendors, they've traveled a long distance. They're eager to have your eyes on these toys, so give them some feedback and have a good time with them. The Community Reception, you know, when you go out there you'll see that we have a surprise planned for you with the food. We have food trucks coming. Oh, [laughs] my favorite is the grilled cheese sandwich food truck, but In and Out Burger seems to be... Things that I'm picking up other places. So please do have fun at the Community Reception, and thank our sponsors, Cox Communications, Johnson and Johnson, and Microsoft for funding this Community Reception. We have so many of you here, we had to ask for some extra money [laughs] to roll those food trucks in. [audience laughing] So, breakfast starts tomorrow at seven. The workshops that you went to earlier today, repeat tomorrow. So you get to pick another one and go tomorrow morning, and then you go back to your alliance meetings, for just a little bit of time there, for a wrap-up, and then we reconvene here at 10:45 for another special awards ceremony from the Academic Alliance. A lot of nice awards being handed out there. And, then we have special guest, Chelsea Clinton joining us, and Donna Brazile. So we end on an inspirational note, and we'll have some really good dialogue there. If you would like your question asked to Chelsea Clinton, please do tweet it to us. We'll be looking at them tonight, and yours might get picked, alright? Who's gonna do that? You're just gonna be at the food truck, lining up [laughs]. But please get it done, you know, maybe before you go to the food trucks, and then your question might be asked. These are the workshops again. Is that a food truck? [audience laughing loudly] Oh, and see they took it off really fast from the back. Thank you so much [laughs loudly]. Whatever that was. So with that, what a wonderful day. Have fun at the reception. Thank you so much to all of our speakers and guests. Thank you. [audience applauding] [audience talking]