Marvel, and toy makers at large, have taken some heat lately due to the lack of representation of girls and for girls in the toy aisle as well as for perceived slights against the handling of their female characters. Perhaps the disproportion of product and distinct pink and blue segregation worked in decades past but sentiments evolve and it’s clear that consumers want the business to change with them.

Shifting the status quo is like having a tug of war but everyone is blindfolded and have their own ropes. We’re all just sort of stumbling around not quite sure exactly what needs to be done to win or how to pull it off practically, but maybe if we all sort of try to move in the same general direction we might gain some ground. We might each individually make some mistakes along the way, in fact we’ll definitely make mistakes along the way, but we can move in the right direction.

That’s why the announcement of Marvel’s “Ant-Man Micro-Tech Challenge” makes me so happy. While this may have no direct impact on the toy aisle, it is Marvel telling young girls that they’re invited to the table, that their input is valued, more importantly, that their minds are valued.

The challenge is open to all girls aged fourteen to eighteen that are currently enrolled in grades nine through twelve. The challenge is to a DIY project that utilizes at least one cheap and readily available “micro-tech component.” The projects can have a scientific function or can be artistic or entertaining. The idea is to use parts that anyone could easily get a hold of. Repurposing and recycling are encouraged.

Marvel has partnered with Raspberry Pi, along with Dolby and VISA, for the challenge and presumably, though not directly stated, you are encouraged to use Raspberry Pi devices, small, affordable computers, as a starting off point.

Applications must be in by 9:00 PM Pacific time June 11. You are encouraged to apply as early as possible because all projects must be completed and video uploaded by the same deadline. Time is short but prizes will be awarded quickly. Winners will receive the following prizes:

  • Receive a trip to Hollywood, California for the winner and her parent to walk the red carpet at the World Premiere of MARVEL’S ANT-MAN on June 29, 2015.
  • Attend a special “The Evolution of Technology” workshop on June 30, 2015 at the Disneyland® Resort where they will meet Walt Disney Imagineers who will introduce them to the broader scope of technology and how innovation is inspired during a behind-the-scenes tour of the Disneyland® Resort.
  • Receive a tour of the Walt Disney Studios.

Never have I wished more that I was a teenage girl than when reading about going to the workshop at Disneyland and meeting Imagineers. There has been plenty of precedent in recent years for teenagers developing breakthrough technologies and making discoveries. More important than convincing toy makers to stock the shelves with Black Widow toys is the task of convincing young people, specifically young girls that they have a seat at the table. Showing them that they can call the shots and in a few years they’ll be making the toys, or the movies, or the spacecrafts to other worlds, and that’s something worth encouraging. 

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Tags: Marvel , Ant-Man , Tech , Micro , Challenge