Apple : Meet four women using apps and games to inspire culture and create change
March 14, 2023
Meet four women who are using apps and games to inspire and change culture
The teams at Rebel Girls, Dinosaur Polo Club, and Wisdom share how their experiences shaped the vision for their apps and games on the App Store.
Every day on the App Store, the entrepreneurs behind best-in-class apps and games harness the power and accessibility of technology to drive change and culture. And for the creators of Mini Motorways, Rebel Girls and Wisdom, app development is about more than the end product – these female-led teams are amplifying women’s voices and guiding the next generation of women and girls who want to pursue careers in technology.
After graduating from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where she studied the stories of the world’s largest technology companies, Jes Wolfe knew she wanted to pursue a career in the industry. Today, she is the CEO of Rebel Girls, a global media brand that empowers girls through the stories of pioneering women. Through the company’s app — which won Apple’s 2022 Design Awards — as well as its podcasts and books, the company aims to inspire young women to dream big.
In their leadership roles at New Zealand-based game development studio Dinosaur Polo Club, Niamh Fitzgerald and Chantelle Cole aim to create a more inclusive workplace, creating an environment where everyone can thrive and feel valued. Designed by a diverse development team, their titles such as Apple Arcade, Mini Motorways encourage users to take a closer look at the world around them and solve problems in creative and unusual ways.
Dayo Akinrinade, a participant in Apple’s 2022 entrepreneurship camp for black founders, felt underrepresented and underappreciated in the computing world after graduating from the University of Manchester – so she built her own community to highlight and amplify women’s voices. Wisdom, audio-first’s social discovery app, connects like-minded users for deep conversations about topics as far-flung as careers, relationships, and fitness.
Below, Wolfe, Fitzgerald, Cole and Akinrinade share how technology is being used to empower women and bring about social change.
What challenges do you face with your company and products?
Jes Wolfe (JW), CEO of Rebel Girls: According to a study published by Science, starting at age 6, we see a lack of self-confidence between the sexes. This is when girls start thinking that they are less smart and less talented than boys. According to the study, career aspirations are shaped by gender stereotypes. In addition, between the ages of 8 and 14, girls’ self-confidence drops by 30 percent. We want every girl to open the Rebel Girls app—or any of our books—and find dozens of role model stories that she can see herself in.
Dayo Akinrinade (DA), Founder of Wisdom: My goal for Wisdom is to replace the inequality of closed networks with an open, diverse community of experts and helpers. Wisdom provides a safe space for women to discuss topics that matter to them, such as women’s rights, domestic violence, leadership, and wellness. Our users who do not identify as women consider themselves allies and provide support by participating in conversations or simply listening.
Niamh Fitzgerald (NF), Chief Operating Officer, Dinosaur Polo Club: Many women face issues such as pay and gender equality, barriers to leadership and inflexible working hours. But we believe that creating a work environment that is inclusive and supportive of everyone, regardless of gender or sexuality, is essential to creating a sustainable and thriving business. Supporting diversity and inclusion is at the heart of everything we do, but we hope to one day get to the point where this is commonplace in every business.
How did the user community see the benefits of your product?
Chantelle Cole (CC), CEO of Dinosaur Polo Club: Our initial goal was to create something that could connect with people who value real-world systems – that could inspire them to look at the world around them with fresh eyes. and perhaps looking for more elegant solutions to everyday problems. We never imagined that our games would become a positive and meaningful part of people’s lives.
JW: We develop all of our content and apps for girls ages 4-12. Our storytelling empowers and inspires them and helps them build confidence, and we do it in a way that the whole family can enjoy. 86 percent of parents say their daughters’ confidence has increased because of Rebel Girls, and 92 percent of parents say our stories have inspired their daughters.
How have your experiences influenced the creation of the app and the management of the business?
CC: My experience in the creative industries, including music and print, started to shape who I wanted to be as a leader. I wanted to take the best parts [people] who have inspired me with their values-based and selfless leadership and are creating a culture that promotes mental well-being, values diversity and directly addresses inequality.
DA: During my time working with minority founders, I witnessed how a lack of social capital contributes to systemic inequality and the disadvantage of founders from minority groups, hence the inspiration for Wisdom. We are developing an open and diverse community, where conversations are centered on advice and personal development.
JW: Early in my career, I read Carly Fiorina’s memoir Tough Choices and devoured every page. One of the first books I read about a female CEO, this inspired me. My favorite question for people is, “Who is a woman who inspires you?” It is disappointing how few people can answer this question. Women still struggle to tell their stories and to tell them authentically. That’s why we tell the stories of more than 400 women representing professions from more than 100 countries; we work with hundreds of female and non-binary writers, illustrators, editors, and narrators to authentically tell these stories.
What features of your app have you designed to uplift and empower girls or women?
NF: We like to call our community of players urban planners or civil engineers, which is a male-dominated field in real life. For young girls, choosing a game that is intentionally designed for all ages and genders will introduce them to the idea that city planning and high-level strategy are things they can find passion for. As a studio, it’s important to us that our games feel accessible and friendly to all demographics, so if they can inspire confidence for a young woman, that’s a success!
JW: Confidence is the biggest predictor of a child’s future success, and girls have less of it than boys. The media plays a big role and Rebel Girls is leading to a shift in narrative and tone. We have a content ecosystem where girls are portrayed in realistic situations where they are winning, surrounded by a supportive community and friends, and not confronted with gender.
DA: Wisdom is a place to ask questions and learn from extraordinary women from all walks of life—women you might never normally meet. Any woman can start a conversation or participate in a Q&A about a topic that matters to her, and it’s free. This is designed to give everyone a voice. From the beginning, we’ve also thought about security: we intentionally add friction to the registration process, have 24-hour moderators, and make it easy to report content. Using artificial intelligence, we algorithmically score our user-generated content to reduce the likelihood of harmful content being published.
What do you hope for the next generation of female technologists?
DA: My hope is that the next generation of female technologists can be their authentic selves and thrive in a technology field that accommodates a variety of leadership styles. After all, driving is not for everyone.
JW: Women founders will provide 2 percent of venture capital in the US in 2022. I would like to see female founders, creators and developers see at least 50 percent of venture funding to produce their products, impact societies, create jobs and build the future. .
NF: For the next generation of women, I hope that a focus on gender diversity and inclusion will become a natural part of how every company does business, rather than something that sets them apart. So many areas of our lives are affected by some aspect of technology, and it makes sense to involve a wide range of people and perspectives when trying to innovate towards a future that works for everyone.