“If you can\u2019t see it,
you can\u2019t be it”



I’m going to start with a little riddle.

If you haven’t heard it, give yourself time to answer before reading past this paragraph. A father and son are in a horrible car crash that kills the dad. The son is rushed to the hospital; just as he’s about to go under the knife, the surgeon says, “I can’t operate—that boy is my son!”

By: Rebecca Gleeson


If you guessed correctly, the boy’s surgeon is the mother. When I was first tasked with that riddle in high school, I guessed incorrectly. I wasn’t alone. The same riddle was presented in a Boston University study, and only 15% of participants guessed the surgeon was the boy’s mother. Even more shocking, some of the younger participants went to so far to suggest that the doctor was a ghost or even a robot, before they guessed woman.

So what made imagining a woman surgeon so difficult? The researchers reveal it is because of gender bias. We are more likely to assume a surgeon is a man, because we are exposed to more male surgeons. However, in the UK, over half of all people accepted onto medical course are women. Why do we still hold these biases if they are no longer correct?

Here is another question. But this time it’s not a riddle. How many female artists, scientists or activists can you name? It can be hard to answer.

To change this, we need to keep celebrating successful women so that our new generation can aspire to be anything they want be, and learn about wonderful women that are making a difference in the world.

Here are a few female trailblazers that some of you may (or may) or may not know about.



Yayoi, 87, is of the most important living artists coming out of Japan. A contemporary of Warhol, she has been referenced as an important voice in the Avant Garde Movement and is most famous for her pop art. She has also influenced feminist art during the 1970s. At that time, feminist art continued to be a tool for challenging the position of women in the social construct.



Malala is a Pakistani female activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize Laureate. In 2012 she was shot in the head three times for speaking out about education for girls. Overnight she became a stateswoman for equal rights. She famously said ‘I don’t want to be remembered as the girl who was shot. I want to be remembered as the girl who stood up.’


Dr. Laura Esserman and Dr. Shelley Hwang

Last but not least, in reference to the female surgeon riddle, these female oncologists are pioneering an approach to breast cancer that is far less invasive than the current standard models. Their research could affect how breast cancer is treated for thousands of women and prevent needless mastectomies.

These are just three of the millions of women that are leading change and making a difference in the world. At Toya, our mission is to empower young girls (and boys) so that they can be anything they want to be. That’s why we are introducing female role models on the Minecraft Platform.

Watch this space to find out who they are…..

‘If you can’t see it, you can’t be it’.

writer Rebecca Gleeson is a strategist at Skating Panda, a creative communications practice specializing in social impact. 
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