GoldieBlox Confronts Sexism in the Toy Aisle

Debbie Sterling

Debbie Sterling, a Stanford grad and engineer, didn’t always plan on being the innovator she has become. Like many girls, she did not realize her potential as an inventor early on, but thanks to a teacher’s suggestion, she gave engineering a try, and ended up with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and Product Design four years later. She noted that her program had a huge deficit of women, and the correlation between the pink-and-rhinestone toy aisle was only natural. If you look at any “boy” toy aisle, it is colorful, bright, and full of creative toys that encourage building, adventure, and problem solving. The “girl” aisle is typically filled with dolls, crowns, plastic makeup, and… more dolls. Boys are given variety and genius-making tools, while girls are given a focus on their beauty (remember, these are children we’re talking about) and… babies? Seems like a totally normal thing for five-year-olds to focus on, right?

From the GoldieBlox website:

At GoldieBlox, our goal is to get girls building. We’re here to help level the playing field in every sense of the phrase. By tapping into girls’ strong verbal skills, our story + construction set bolsters confidence in spatial skills while giving young inventors the tools they need to build and create amazing things.
In a world where men largely outnumber women in science, technology, engineering and math…and girls lose interest in these subjects as early as age 8, GoldieBlox is determined to change the equation. Construction toys develop an early interest in these subjects, but for over a hundred years, they’ve been considered “boys toys”. By designing a construction toy from the female perspective, we aim to disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers.
We believe there are a million girls out there who are engineers. They just might not know it yet. We think GoldieBlox can show them the way.

The problem still persists, but projects like GoldieBlox and engineers like Debbie Sterling, are grabbing that problem by the horns and calling bullshit. While we can’t reinvent the wheel, GoldieBlox is assembling a team of genius young girls and giving them tools to make their own wheels- pink, purple, and rhinestone-clad as they may be. I think we have a new item for those holiday gift lists! Visit GoldieBlox here, and check out the brilliant little inventors in the video below as they do a wonderful rendition of the Beastie Boys’ “Girls.”

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