Anthony Onesto is a business development guru who has started a campaign via Indiegogo to support females in engineering. The Makegood recently spoke with Onesto about a show he has developed that encourages females to pursue engineering.
The Makegood: Your idea to start a campaign for a TV show called Ella the Engineer is an admirable one. Could you elaborate on what the show would be about, and why you decided to create this show?
The show is a cartoon concept that follows a female heroine who solves everyday problems through software coding and computer science. In the first episode, the town where Ella lives has a problem with its only traffic light. The mayor calls Ella to help fix the problem and the only way is through software coding since the traffic light runs on software. Each episode Ella is presented with a challenge that relates to software coding or computer science and she needs to use her smarts to fix it, with the help of some of her friends – a tablet, her smartphone, computer and mouse. They will all be animate objects in the series and will assist Ella in solving problems. I created Ella because I noticed a huge gap in the amount of women applying for software and technology jobs in various different companies. With a small amount of research, I found that the lack applications starts at a very young age. I then took a look at the programs my own girls were watching on TV and none had a female hero that had a computer science or coding background. I saw an opportunity to create that hero in Ella.
The Makegood: What sorts of ideas do you have for the show, and how will you express to girls that engineering is a great field?
Each episode, Ella will use her computer science and coding to solve everyday problems. It will reflect the fact that most common objects we see everyday have a tie to the internet, computer science and coding. Having a female lead will also show young kids (specifically girls) that learning more about this could be fun and exciting. Ella will lead that way. There will also be online and gaming components of the show which challenge its views to coding problems via an online site or smartphone/tablet app. We see Ella, not only as a TV show, but a full 360 degree integrated show that doesn’t stop once the show over.
The Makegood: Why is it important to have more females in the engineering field? Do you believe that having more female engineers will be very beneficial to the engineering world?
There is no question that having a more diverse workforce benefits any organization. There was a stat I read that shows startups with female leaders have a greater opportunity to succeed than those without one. There have been plenty of studies out there that show a strong diversity, specifically gender, in any organization and division, proves to be more successful.
The Makegood: Why is the shortage of female engineers a cause for alarm? Do you believe that Ella the Engineer will have a great impact on young girls?
Well, whenever you find a gap in organizations that is glaring, it’s a cause for concern. When you see data that shows majority of technology organizations are male dominated, you always ask yourself the question “why?”. When you dig a bit deeper and find that this is a fact across many different companies, the “why?” gets more complex. Then you double click again and you find that the outside influences that possibly determine interest in a career like software coding or computer science don’t exist for young kids. Its an incredible gap that can be filled with a project like Ella.
The Makegood: What do you see for the future of engineering if many females enter into the engineering field?
It’s all positive as more females enter the engineering field. I think diversity of thought and background will only help the discipline. I also think it opens up additional opportunities for girls to learn how to build technology, which leads into more entrepreneurial ventures lead by women. Technology has leveled the playing field in terms of startups and has created a true democratic system where anyone with a good idea can build an app, technology, and/or a company. We want to get young kids interested in computer science and coding as many organizations like Code.org or Girls Who Code do, but at a younger age. It’s here where we can make a positive impact in the world. The evolution of Ella is to build an ecosystem where young kids are encouraged to be creative, build technology, and become the next generation of entrepreneurs – imagine a TechStars or WeWork for kids!