Wandering the toy aisles of your favorite toy store it’s very clear which toys are “meant” for girls and which are “meant” boys. Girls like Riley aren’t happy about these color-coded marketing tactics. Who could blame her? The colors pink and blue have been used to label the different genders since the beginning of time we were born. Blue or pink bonnet anyone?
But in 2012 Stanford engineering graduate, Debbie Sterling, had it with these labels and aimed to disrupt the pink aisle and prove that girls are more than just princesses; they are creators, engineers and inventors. She founded GoldieBlox, Inc.—a startup toy company that combines reading with building, something that we haven’t seen much of in the pink aisle by the way of Legos or Erector sets.
To transform GoldieBlox from an idea to a reality, Sterling set up a Kickstarter campaign for the first production order, raising about $285,000, surpassing her original goal of $150,000. (Woohooo!) And earlier this month GoldieBlox started to be sold on the shelves of toy retailer, Toys R Us! (double whoohoo)!
Seeing a toy like this hit the shelves, become a reality, and inspire young girls makes me get a bit nostalgic and almost kind of jealous that there weren’t really any toys out there when I was growing up that involved a story line and building. Yes, LEGO that means you and your superficial way of inclusion by slapping a pink case around your plastic building bricks, hey look now they’re for girls!
When I was in elementary school I loved science and all the hands-on experiments we were able to conduct, measure the cause and effect, and challenge the dependent and independent variables. (betcha haven’t thought about that stuff in awhile, eh?) But somewhere around high school I fell off the science metaphorical train and landed in the creative and writing side of things, nothing wrong with that!
Growing up I didn’t really know what real career options were available to a science lover besides well…a scientist (mental picture: Albert Einstein). We attended field trips to science museums to see and learn about the great discoveries and inventions by men throughout history and were shown countless episodes of Bill Nye the Science Guy (Bill, Bill, Bill!)
The saddest part? I don’t think I ever once challenged or argued where Brenda the Builder or Edna the Engineer was hiding. Because it was “just the way it was.” Shame on my naïve baby self. I accepted the societal norm without really knowing it.
For this reason, I’m grateful for bold women like Sterling who are challenging societal norms and aiming to make change and bring awareness among young girls reaching their highest potential. Sterling is a game changer, she’s not only proving a toy to keep girls’ interest in engineering but also show girls in a hands on way that they can and do become engineers, just like their role model in the storybook, Goldie!
Thanks to Sterling, today’s young girls, like Riley, can feel a bit more comfortable walking the toy aisles.
More on Debbie, how GoldieBlox came to be, and proof in her engineering pudding!