(NEW YORK) — Move over, Barbie, and make room for Marie Curie.
Miss Possible, an Illinois-based start-up, hopes to inspire girls with a new line of dolls. The goal of these dolls is to encourage girls to explore science, engineering and leadership.
The idea for the company grew out of a perceived need. University of Illinois alumna Supriya Hobbs and University of Illinois student Janna Eaves noticed very few women in their engineering classes. It is a trend that extends beyond the classroom — the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) workforce is 24 percent women, according to a Department of Commerce report.
Utilizing what Hobbs describes as a “shared passion of sharing engineering with kids,” the two founded Miss Possible in January. They recruited seven other University of Illinois students, and together the budding company has drawn up plans for their first doll: Marie Curie.
Curie’s accomplishments as one of the world’s most renowned chemists and the only person to have won two Nobel Prizes in two different science categories made her a clear choice for the first doll.
“She definitely is an excellent role model,” said Hobbs in an interview with ABC News. “We thought her story of overcoming obstacles was especially enchanting.”
The founders have obstacles of their own. In order to actually create the product, Miss Possible has launched a crowd-funded Indiegogo campaign. The company hopes to raise $75,000 by Aug. 16 to fund manufacturing costs.
The campaign has already raised over $58,000 from more than 800 backers and received the support of groups like the Society of Women Engineers and Goldieblox. Hobbs is optimistic about reaching their goal.
“We have a mission that seems to align with a lot of people right now,” she said.
Each doll will come with an interactive application that teaches about that historic individual. It will contain interactive activities inspired by the person’s achievements. For example, the Marie Curie app will show girls how to make a compass.
“The app takes it one step forward to help these girls not just be inspired by this woman and her story but also build the skills that will help them succeed in these fields,” Hobbs said.
Once it successfully launches with Marie Curie, Miss Possible has plans to expand the line of dolls. Bessie Coleman, the first female African-American pilot, and Ada Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer, are on the roster.
“We think there are a lot opportunities to expand on this and show more and more role models and start reaching into different avenues,” Hobbs said. “We would love to have these dolls in the hands of girls around the world.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Parija Kavilanz, CNN
Patrick Ary, WAAY
Jackie Wattles, CNN
Paul R. La Monica, CNN