A new collaboration between Griffith alumni is encouraging young girls to dream big, with the launch of a social enterprise project breaking down gender stereotypes in early childhood.
She Dreams Big was co-founded by Griffith Business School alumnus Michael McGee, who was inspired to launch the project after noticing a lack of positive role models for his three young daughters.
“My daughters were interested in space exploration, but everything out there for young girls is very passive – it’s all butterflies and princesses,” he said.
“Research has shown that kids pick up these entrepreneurial and risk-taking skills very early in life, so we wanted to change the narrative.
“Little girls can’t be what they can’t see.”
The first major initiative by She Dreams Big co-founders Rachael McGee and Louise Brown is a series of books, written by Rachael and illustrated by Queensland College of Art (QCA) graduate Cody Wood.
The books follow five young female characters through a series of adventures, showcasing occupations where women are under-represented and celebrating traits like leadership, risk-taking and problem-solving.
A percentage of profits from the project will be donated to Room to Read, a global charity working to transform the lives of children by improving literacy and gender equality in education.
QCA alumnus Cody said that as a young female artist, she wanted to encourage girls to realise their full potential.
“I had just graduated when the team at Liveworm put me up for this project, and it was so good to see the team was keen to support an emerging female artist,” she said.
“It was a big learning curve, but this project gave me the confidence to go out on my own as a freelance designer.”
Cody describes her work as “bright and playful” and said the books were designed to appeal to young girls without playing into gender stereotypes.
“We wanted to keep it playful, fun and not super girly – it was all about breaking down those biases,” she said.
“It was rewarding getting to explore these characters and bring them to life across a whole series of adventures.”
Rachael said the books had already begun to inspire important conversations between young girls and parents across the country.
“Young girls dreams without inhibition, and we hope girls can see themselves in these under-represented occupations through Louise and Cody’s very deliberate design ideas.”
“We’ve already had great feedback since the launch last week, and there are plans for more books featuring high-profile Australian women including journalist Sandra Sully and Olympians Cate Campbell and Lauren Parker.”
The books were produced in collaboration with Liveworm, the in-house design studio at Queensland College of Art. Liveworm provides students the opportunity to work on real projects, for real clients, in a studio environment.
Liveworm Creative Director Dr David Sargent said a set of shared values had informed the collaboration.
“The values at the heart of this project really drew us to it – here at Griffith we share the same commitment to gender equity and social justice,” he said.
“All of our clients are committed to working with fresh, young talent – they are invested in the careers of our students and they want to see them succeed.”
Cody said the experience she gained at Liveworm helped set her up for a successful career as an illustrator.
“Liveworm was the most valuable part of my degree – it gave me a taste of what it’s like working with clients and designing to a brief.
“It took me a while to realise that I could make a career out of my passion for art and design, but the connections that I made at uni have made projects like this possible.”