Indeed, where are the waves of young women forging their own products and businesses? And why aren’t there more female-backed products lining our retail shelves?
Determined to pass on the tenets of self-belief and entrepreneurial thinking to his daughter and other young women, Glazebrook launched Girls Invent, a program that heads into schools to target students that sit with their heads full of marketable ideas.
It was an article espousing the perks of Glazebrook’s workshop-syle sessions that first piqued the attention of staff at Melbourne’s Genazzano FCJ College.
“But once we got involved we actually then saw how beneficial it was for the students,” Catherine Brandon, director of Genazzano Institute, reports.
“The girls are treated like capable adults and the team really work [in a way that] it’s not like a school project, they are encouraged to not be self-limiting or to be restricted by the traditional [ideas about] what teen girls can or can’t accomplish.”
Throwing away the genderised rulebook is just the start of the inventors’ journey.
“Mark says it’s really important for the girls to be observant and to be questioning and discussing things that they think are interesting – and that’s where that creative process starts, that curiosity,” Brandon begins.
“And they are challenged to think about problems in a different way and to try out different ideas … they need to learn about technical requirements, social or science processes that might be needed to make the invention into an actual marketable product.”
It’s not enough to have a great idea though. There are aspects of feasibility, market research, resourcing, marketing and business plans to nail.
“There’s a whole range of things that the girls have invented, things that might have been familiar for them or within their experience.
“Like they might have [had] a difficulty with losing a mobile phone, so some girls invented a trackable phone case.
"But they’ve also invented things that [solve] problems that may be a bit outside their experience, like portable photocopiers … or online medical advice – so problems or issues that they think ‘hey there is a need here’.
“One of the ones that we thought was really quite impressive recently was some [umpire] assistance technology that some of the girls came up with – that really promoted fair football. Another one was a drive-through kind of supermarket … where you could get the essentials just packaged up quickly and you don’t have to get out of your car, so I think that would be really practical.”
After months of fine-tuning their prototypes, the Year 9s unveil their inventions and supporting research at a school showcase.
Brandon says while some might go on to successfully launch their model on the market, this is not the main end-game.
“The best thing I think about it is seeing the confidence and the self-belief that comes through this sort of process where they are told to ‘think about it, invent it – just do it!’
“And there are no restrictions that are placed on them, so it inspires them and gives them a practical understanding of STEM and how that can be used to create products and benefit society.”