This all-women's Super Bowl ad is helping close the STEM gender gap

Astronaut Nicole Stott, who stars in the Olay commercial alongside actresses Lilly Singh and Busy Philipps, talks to Know Your Value about the ad and gives her best advice to young girls and women interested in STEM.
From left to right: Retired astronaut Nicole Stott, actresses Lilly Singh, and Busy Phillips are starting in an Olay commercial that will air during the Super Bowl on Sunday.
From left to right: Retired astronaut Nicole Stott, actresses Lilly Singh, and Busy Phillips are starting in an Olay commercial that will air during the Super Bowl on Sunday.Courtesy of Olay.

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By Renee Morad

It’s the golden age of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. And a new ad that will air during the Super Bowl is proving just that.

To pay homage to women in STEM who are paving the way for future generations, skincare brand Olay is launching a Super Bowl commercial with their #MakeSpaceForWomen campaign.

The ad takes viewers on a thrilling ride through space with an all-female crew. It’s part of a larger campaign to inspire women to be strong, fearless and to believe in themselves — with a little humor sprinkled in. Check it out:

The commercial stars retired NASA astronaut Nicole Stott and actresses Lilly Singh and Busy Philipps who take a journey through space. Actress Taraji P. Henson plays the role of mission controller, and the ride is shared over the air by journalist Katie Couric.

“Space exploration has a way of truly inspiring us,” Stott told Know Your Value. “It’s a very uplifting platform.”

The Super Bowl represents advertising’s biggest night, yet only about 27 percent of past Super Bowl ads have starred women.

The ad opens up with Couric reading off a teleprompter, saying "Is there enough space in space for women? Who wrote that? Are people really still asking that question?"

Then Stott, Singh, and Phillips are seen in a spaceship with Phillips saying, "We have the opposite of a problem." Singh adds, "There is so much space out here." Stott then chimes in with, "I could have told you that."

RELATED: 5 ways to close the gender gap for women in STEM

And since many industries, including STEM, have yet to reach gender parity, Olay is donating one dollar to Girls Who Code every time users tag @OlaySkin and use the hashtag #MakeSpaceForWomen on Twitter between January 14 through February 3, 2020. Olay hopes this will inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, programmers and space explorers to “Face Anything.”

“We recognize that many industries have yet to reach gender parity, which is why we’re using our Super Bowl ad to feature fearless women who have been trailblazers in their own industries as a way to inspire people everywhere to get involved and support Operation #MakeSpaceForWomen,” said Eric Rose, associate brand director for Olay.

Currently, women make up only about a quarter of workers in STEM careers, and they earn considerably less than men.

And according to a recent study conducted by the independent research firm RTI International, in collaboration with L’Oréal USA and the Heising-Simons Foundation, 91 percent of women who work in STEM believe gender discrimination remains a career obstacle. Furthermore, some 88 percent of respondents shared that gender bias serves as an obstacle to women’s career trajectories, specifically in the postdoctoral stage.

This past October, NASA astronauts completed the first spacewalk by an all-female team, consisting of Jessica Meir and Christina Koch. Since then, two more all-female spacewalks have followed.

With roughly 36 percent of NASA astronauts being women, the all-female spacewalks happening now are purely coincidental, said Stott.

“The thing that really impressed me about the first all-female spacewalk was that it wasn’t contrived in any way,” Stott said. “It truly fell out of the rotation for spacewalk assignments. It’s awesome that we’re now at a point where our mix of astronauts brings two women in space at the same time to perform a required task.”

Stott encourages young girls and women to believe in themselves and have the courage to take control of their dreams. “Pay attention to what you enjoy, and look for role models and other women that are present in these fields to be examples,” she said.