The captivating ad starts off by showing a young woman working while two young girls are in the background. The camera focuses on one of the girls, who is not white. She is playing with another girl who is white. They are playing with bears while the non-white girl talks about the things that the “mommy bear” does during the day. The camera focuses on the white young girl and shows the doubt on her face. She voices this doubt by claiming that “the mommy bear” cannot do so much of stuff. The other girl becomes defensive and responds, “My mommy does. My mommy can do anything.” The women in the background had taken out her earphones to make sure the girls weren’t fighting and hears the words. She smiles. It can be assumed that she is the girl’s mother. The ad moves on to advertise Coursera and how it can help people. After some time, it shows the little girls playing again and the daughter says, “The momma bear’s getting her MBA.” The ad continues to talk about Coursera.
Many ads in the US that show women do not show them in a positive way that would make them feel proud of themselves. Instead, these types of ads lead to assumptions that women are dumb, vulnerable, weak, and objects. But there are a few uplifting ads that show women as smart, capable, and independent. Ads that show women can multi-task and they can be strong without a dominant male. The commercial ‘Bears’ by Coursera enforces the idea that women are smart, capable and can do many things.
The Coursera ad shows that women do not have to be young and smart to get an education. Instead, all they have to do is believe in themselves. By having that belief, others will believe it, too. For example, in the ad the daughter says, “My mommy can do anything” (Coursera). This line shows that the daughter believes her mother can do whatever she wants because she does so much. The ad contributes to this idea by offering online courses and, in a later scene, the daughter says, “My mommy’s getting her MBA” (Coursera). This supports the ad because it shows how a woman getting her MBA while doing other things, such as learning computer programming, taking her child to soccer, and taking photography classes. This proves that women can multi-task and this supports the ad because it shows how Coursera lets the student multi-task without taking up the student’s whole focus. This is especially needed in the US as women in America may feel weak when faced with underlying assumptions in the ads that surround them every day.
Another thing that we notice in this ad is that the woman who is doing so much is a mother. This fact shows that a woman does not have to have only one goal at a time. She can have kids and study at the same time. Often times, after a woman gets married, she is not expected to be in the process of getting a degree, unless newly married. Many people expect for her to settle down as a housewife or have a job but one which does not require new skills to be learnt. This ad makes women realize that they can still study because it is never too late. This ad makes women feel inspired to do something in their life. When the women are working towards the degree, they feel capable because they managed to add another thing to their list of accomplishments.
One problem that women face is that in the field of education there are not enough females. According to Marie Nakitende, in her article “Motivation and perseverance of women in education leadership in the United States of America” she writes “In spite of their efforts and contributions to higher education, women continue to be underrepresented in administrative positions in academia” (Nakitende, 77). This could mean that women are not being inspired to be in the education field. Many women are not trying to contribute in any way to higher education. Coursera’s ad is made to motivate women to pursue higher degrees. Many women may not have pursued education because they are afraid of being the first. But the Coursera ad shows women that they are capable and can have a good education.
Another reason women do not enter the field of education is because they think they can achieve a higher education. They believe that they are not capable nor smart enough to reach such a goal. Instead, they simply let the many dangers and risks of trying to get a degree overwhelm them and decide that it is too scary. If women decided that they would work hard for what they want, they would be able to face these fears. Coursera gives a solution to some of their fears for their own safety. By using Coursera, women are making an intelligent choice and making sure they are safe as well as able to get their degree.
There are many other problems as to why women are not trying to chase higher education. One of them is sexual violence. In “Progress and paradox for women in US higher education”, Daryl Smith mentions “…campus based incidents, there has been additional media attention to issues of harassment on campus involving faculty and administrators as well. The crisis concerning sexual violence has resulted in significant policy changes both on and off campus reaching to federal and state levels” (Smith, 814-815). This problem can cause a lot of hesitation on the women’s side and it is understandable if they would not want to take a on-campus course. That is where Coursera plays in by offering an online course which guarantees women safety.
Another problem that women face is “too many women.” Smith talks about how people are uncomfortable if there are too many women in a certain field. She says, “…it is also clear that ‘too many women’ generates concern about the ultimate attractiveness of a field or institution (Eisenmann 2006; Smith 2015)” (Smith, 817). A lot of women might be afraid of riots and protests against too many women. They are worried that these protests are against the fact that many more women are working harder and having more visible results that everyone is noticing. Once again, Coursera’s online course makes women feel that they are not doing something too unacceptable. Women prove they are smart to try and avoid unnecessary conflicts by instead taking online courses.
One thing Coursera offers to women is a chance to higher their self-esteem. By taking a course with Coursera they would feel accomplished and smart. The Coursera ad offers women a chance to redeem themselves in their own eyes and make them feel superior. When they don’t, they don’t feel as if they have tried everything they could have. When they do, they realize that they are intellectual and control themselves, instead of someone else controlling them.
When women don’t do something they know can be helpful for them, they feel inferior. In the case of Coursera, they feel dumb, as if they don’t have the certain knowledge that is necessary for them to be smart. Instead, the mentally degrade themselves and feel weak and vulnerable. These are also feelings women can feel when looking at ads that feature women as objects. There are many documentaries, essays, and articles about how ads negatively impact women. But the feelings a woman has when she believes she didn’t make the right choice is similar to when she is internally comparing herself to women in ads that scream perfection. Or they relate to ads that show women as objects, weak, and docile.
The Coursera ad highlights how women are independent and capable. It brings attention to how if a person feels unsafe or threatened, they can take online courses. They can also get a higher education. This can make many women feel independent and accomplished. They also get the satisfaction of knowing that they are able to multi-task and to achieve important goals in life. Taking courses can also make a woman feel much more confident about herself. They can go on and succeed while also go about their lives. They would realize that they can do anything.