'Hyperlinked' is the latest series aimed at STEM for girls
When Juliette Brindak Blake was 16, she wanted to do something for her younger sister, Olivia, and her friends.
Source: LISA RESPERS FRANCE
Brindak Blake knew how tough middle school could be for girls, so she launched a tween social networking site called "Miss O And Friends."
Now in her 20s, she never imagined her idea would be used as the basis for "Hyperlinked," a new YouTube Red series which follows the lives of five young friends.
Like "Hyperlinked," Netflix's "Project MC2," PBS's "SciGirls," Amazon Prime's "AnneDroids" and Sprout TV's "Dot' also aim to show girls that science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) can be cool.
"Hyperlinked" producer Brindak Blake told CNN "STEM should be an everyday thing for girls."
"We want to provide these kind of positive role models that are relatable to middle school and younger or older elementary school girls," she said. "We want to empower them."
That means characters who like to code and develop apps as much as they like to talk about boys or hang out with their friends.
Experts have pointed to gender stereotypes and bias to partially explain why fewer women pursue STEM careers.
Kimberly Bryant is the founder of "Black Girls Code" and serves as an adviser on "Hyperlinked."
She said there has been as drop in the number of women going into computer science and technology fields since she graduated from college in the late 1980s with a degree in electrical engineering.
Girls in elementary school are often interested in math and science, Bryant said, but that seems to change around middle school. Having more positive imagery in the media around STEM could help changed that, she said.
"The images you see in media are vital to impacting not just what the world sees in terms of who can be a computer scientist, who can be techie, who can be a geek or who can be a creator, it also impacts the girls and what they internalize," Bryant said.
Mariangeli Collado, 14, stars as Juliette and Jenna Raine Simmons, 13, plays Juliette's little sister, Olivia.
Collado said "Hyperlinked" is not unlike other shows for teens, there's just a little something extra.
"As well as going through the normal things girls go through that we include in the show, it's nice to have aspects like STEM and technology that we don't ordinarily see on a regular basis," she said. "It's a really good encouragement for girls."
Simmons said she draws inspiration from women in her family who work in STEM fields and hopes "Hyperlinked" offers a similarly encouraging message.
"It's really important to know that girls can be what they want to be and do what they want to do."