Microsoft's "#MakeWhatsNext: Change the Odds" A Rhetorical Analysis by Kylie Prymak

In the video above, Microsoft invites six girls to share their dreams of what they want to change about the world. All of the girls answer with a dream involving STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers. The video then depicts each girl using Microsoft's technological devices to "interact" with her dream. The girls either use virtual reality goggles or a computer and projector to explore what their dreams could look like. After this, Microsoft informs the girls that their dreams will most likely not become realities because, "Only 6.7% of women graduate with STEM degrees," (Microsoft). The presentation ends with each girl asserting that she will achieve her dreams because she will defy the odds.

Throughout the video, Microsoft employs production techniques, their reputation, and the girls to communicate that education in STEM for women should be encouraged and to market their devices to the viewer, furthering the discussion about the empowerment of young women in STEM.


The production techniques that Microsoft uses are music, filming, lighting, and the layout of the room.


Throughout the commercial, Microsoft utilizes the changing of the background music to convey their message. In the beginning, the music slowly builds as the girls start to discuss their dreams. This upbeat, positive melody continues until the moment depicted above. In that moment, the music stops and echos, communicating the melancholic and solemn attitude of the situation and using the rhetorical device, pathos, to impart the emotion of the girls onto the viewer. Furthermore, this transition is the Kairos of the video because after inspiring the viewer with the dreams of the girls, Microsoft stops the music to freeze the viewer in a state of disbelief about the statistic. After this, the music begins to rise again, as the girls declare that they will not be a part of the statistic, using the pathos of this encouraging music to motivate and inspire the viewer.


Another production technique Microsoft uses is filming the girls at particular distances to emphasize their message. When the girls first walk into the frame, the camera cycles through several frames of the girls walking, ending with one girl sitting in the center chair, which is depicted in the first image, below. The camera moves close to the girls as they explain what they want to change about the world to draw the viewer into each of the girl's dreams (see the second picture). The third image exhibits the scenes of the girls using Microsoft's technology to learn about their dreams. The camera zooms out as the girls use the devices to allow the viewer to experience Microsoft's technology as the girls are. Finally, as the girls are confronted with the statistic and decide to defy it, the camera comes close to the faces of the girls to show their emotion and to pull the viewer into it. This is depicted in the fourth image.

Microsoft uses filming distances to connect the viewer with the message of the video.


The changing of the lighting in the frame conveys the attitude of each situation depicted. As the girls walk on stage and discuss their aspirations, the lighting is very luminous, brightening the white of the walls and stage, as illustrated in the first image, below. There is a slight, but noticeable, spotlight behind the chair where the girls sit, which immediately draws the attention of the audience to the girls. The lights dim while the girls use Microsoft's technology. The dimming causes the projections of what the girls are seeing to stand out, immersing the viewer in the experiences of the girls. After this, the lighting darkens significantly just as the third picture, below, appears in the commercial. The darkening of the room communicates to the audience that Microsoft and the girls believe that this situation is dismal and discouraging. The fourth image depicts the relighting of the room as the girls announce that they will not be discouraged, ending in the same bright light that the video started with. The last image in the video is a white screen with a Microsoft logo in the center. This depiction, with a bright and white background, implies that the company is at the center of the brightness and positivity that the girls exuded in the lighted moments of the video.

The lighting in the video conveys the attitude of each scene to the audience.

The Room

Microsoft organizes the room to subtly tell the viewer what kind of message they are trying to impart. First, the angular white walls displayed in the image, above, mimic the clean and practical walls of a laboratory or a hospital, locations where STEM work takes place. The brightness of the room also conveys the innocence of the girls and their impressionability. The square pillar, exhibited in the bottom left image, is very exact and clean-cut, reminding the viewer of the practicality involved in STEM. The image in the top left of the grid, below, shows a circular bench. This bench, located next to the square pillar, invites the viewer to come and listen to the girls. It also ensures that the room is not too empty or completely devoid of furniture. Another piece of the room that points to the STEM fields is the chair next to the pillar (see the picture on the right). The chair has geometric designs that tie the girls to STEM when they sit in it. The chair is also the only non-white piece in the room. Its dark blue hue immediately draws the eye to the center of the room where the girls are.

Microsoft uses the furniture and layout of the room to communicate the girl's connection to STEM.


Microsoft also employs their devices, reputation, and campaign to convey the message that women in STEM should be empowered and to market their company's technology.

Technological Devices

Microsoft employs their technological devices in a rhetorical move to bring the dreams of the girls alive. Allowing the girls to experience what kind of work they could eventually do, accomplishes Microsoft's secondary purpose of the video, which is to sell their products to the viewer. By using their technology in this way, Microsoft uses visual rhetoric to announce to the reader that their company helps people achieve their dreams. This prompts the viewer to associate positivity and success with Microsoft's products. The company uses two of their devices: a computer with its mouse and virtual reality goggles. The computer has a circular mouse that allows the image on the screen to be manipulated more easily (see the first image, below). The goggles allow the girls to "enter" into the reality of their dreams (see the second and third images). Images associated with the girl's aspirations appear in front of them, making their dreams concrete. Microsoft then shows the viewer what this reality looks like on the screen, so they can participate as well. Microsoft's use of their technology conveys to the viewer that their technology helps people achieve their dreams.

Microsoft allows the girls to use their technology to advertise for their company.

The Role of Microsoft

Should Microsoft be able to comment on women in STEM? Microsoft is able to comment on women in STEM because they are a technology company, the "T" in STEM. They are one of the many companies in which the gender gap exists. Therefore, they are recognizing an issue within their company and within their industry and are making a statement about it. Also, Microsoft's company has a certain ethos within the technology community. It is one of the oldest technology companies and possibly one of the most trusted. Most PC's have Microsoft's software as their operating system, and their logo is an iconic image in relation to computers. Being a company with so much influence allows Microsoft to comment about this topic and to have an impact.

Further, campaigning for more women in STEM is currently a very popular idea. Many technology companies have released commercials and campaigns advocating for an increase of women in STEM. For example, GE produced a commercial about Millie Dresselhaus, one of the first female engineers to receive an engineering award. Verizon also launched a campaign and commercial titled "Inspire Her Mind," which discussed the rhetoric we should use to encourage girls to become involved in STEM. Audi debuted a commercial during the Superbowl that discussed the gender gap within industry. It is popular for STEM companies to comment on the current situation within STEM. Therefore, Microsoft commenting on it also markets that their company has a trustworthy ethos and is involved in important social change.

The Campaign

Microsoft illustrates that they are dedicated to empowering women in STEM by launching a campaign called "YouthSpark." The company uses this commercial to market their programs in the campaign. This campaign sponsors programs that allow young men and women to become more involved in STEM fields. One program provides an hour of free coding to encourage kids to become involved in STEM. The campaign also offers summer camps where young men and women can explore each of the fields in STEM. The campaign not only spreads the message of the video, but it also serves as an advertising platform for the company. Microsoft can market their devices and technology to the children in the programs and their parents, as well. When those children grow up and possibly become involved in STEM, they will remember what Microsoft did for them. The campaign also increases the company's ethos, which makes them more marketable.

To learn more, visit the campaign's website:


Microsoft employs the appearance of the girls, the STEM topics they discuss, and the testimonies of the girls to demonstrate that women can and should be inspired to enter STEM fields.

Appearance of the Girls

Microsoft utilizes the appearances of the girls to impart their message upon the viewer. First, Microsoft chooses girls from different ethnicities to demonstrate that they value diversity in their company and that their message is for everyone. This selection allows viewers from all ethnicities to connect with the girls. Microsoft also tries to appeal to all types of girls. One girl wears baseball t-shirt (see bottom right image in the grid below), another wears a shirt with hearts on it (see bottom left depiction), and one other wears overalls (see top right picture). These clothing choices are chosen to relate to all kinds of young girls, including the "tomboy" and the "girly girl." Overall, however, the girls are made to look feminine. All of the girls were bright, light colors typically associated with females, including purple, pink, yellow, and white. None of them wear red or blue, which are colors that are usually associated with males. The girls also wear necklaces, bracelets, and earrings to emphasize their femininity. This is a video about women in STEM, so Microsoft wants to make clear that these girls are young women on the precipice of entering into STEM. Microsoft also works to ensure that the girls do not appear too feminine. None of the girls are in dresses or skirts, which would usually be associated solely with females. They all wear nice pants and blouse that are the childhood equivalent of business casual. Microsoft wants the girls to appear professional and capable. Furthermore, the ages of the girls are all about the same. Microsoft shows their younger age by putting their hair in pigtails (see all three images on the left of the grid), by having them wear lace (see the left center image), and by having them wear overalls (see the top right image). Their age is significant because these girls are at the age where they can have concrete ideas about what they want to do in the world, but they are still at an impressionable age in which they can be inspired and molded. Microsoft chooses this particular age because the girls will be taken seriously when they discuss their dreams, but Microsoft can still inspire them in a way that is believable to the viewer.

The six girls featured in the commercial

STEM Topics

Microsoft chooses diverse topics that the girls want to change about the world. This variety in topics ensures that Microsoft can encompass several types of STEM and conjure many different images in the mind of the viewer in regards to STEM. One girl mentions climate change, which is a very prevalent topic in the media today. It is also a debated topic, but when the young girl describes wanting to learn more about it, she separates herself from the debate by asserting that she simply wants to discover more about it. Microsoft approaches the climate change debate in the most innocent way possible, through the desire for learning and discovery. Another girl mentions that she wants to help create a self-sustaining environment. Energy and self-sufficiency are important topics within the STEM community and again Microsoft has the girl approach them with excitement and interest that transmit her pathos onto the viewer. The final dream mentioned concerns curing cancer. Microsoft selected this topic because they knew that many people could connect to the pathos and ethos associated with curing cancer. Most people know someone who has battled cancer, and having the young girl talk about wanting to cure the disease connects the reader with her story and with Microsoft's message as a whole. Choosing well-known topics such as these that connect with the viewer helps Microsoft increase their ethos and deliver their message about increasing the number of women in STEM.

Testimonies of the Girls

Microsoft exercises the testimonies of the girls to impart the importance of the empowerment of women in STEM. In the beginning, the girls describe their dreams and then are prompted to experience their dreams with Microsoft's technological devices. Their explanation of their dreams and their excitement about achieving them utilizes logos to inform the viewer that they, as young women, can be involved in STEM. Microsoft then presents the girls with the enthymeme that states because "Only 6.7% of women graduate with STEM degrees," they will not graduate with STEM degrees and they will not achieve their dreams (Microsoft). The girls recognize that Microsoft has displayed a fallacy, and assert that they will defy the statistic. Microsoft used this fallacy to show the viewer that the idea that women should not be involved in STEM is wrong and that it should be corrected. When the girls declare their defiance, they communicate the ethos of the argument that women can participate in STEM and should be encouraged to do so. Overall, their testimonies and their pathos convey to the viewer Microsoft's message about women in STEM and help the company advertise for their products.

Works Cited

AKQA. "Inspire Her Mind." AKQA. AKQA Inc., 2017. Web. 4 Apr. 2017. <>

Audi USA. "Audi #DriveProgress Big Game Commercial – 'Daughter'." Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 1 Feb 2017. Web. 4 Apr. 2017.

General Electric. "Engineering the Future: Bridge the STEM Gender Gap by 2020." GE Global Research. General Electric, 2017. Web. 4 Apr. 2017. <>

Microsoft. "Change the World. Stay in STEM." YouthSpark. Microsoft, 24 June 2015. Web. 4 Apr. 2017. <>

Microsoft. "#MakeWhatsNext: Change the Odds." Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 7 Mar 2017. Web. 28 Mar. 2017

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