GoldieBlox: the engineering key for girls

GoldieBlox’s message asserts that ‘our little princesses’ are much more than beauty queens. In ‘disrupting the pink aisle’, girls are inspired to use their minds to solve problems and have fun while doing so.

GoldieBlox’s message asserts that ‘our little princesses’ are much more than beauty queens. In ‘disrupting the pink aisle’, girls are inspired to use their minds to solve problems and have fun while doing so.

GoldieBlox’s message asserts that ‘our little princesses’ are much more than beauty queens. In ‘disrupting the pink aisle’, girls are inspired to use their minds to solve problems and have fun while doing so.

GoldieBlox, a small company of 15 staffers, is catching the attention of many for various reasons. The original jawdropper was the idea behind the toy line: ‘disrupt the pink aisle.’

We have all seen it; the stereotypical ‘girls’ paradise’. Not to say there is anything wrong with pink, glitter and princesses, but there seems to be a distinct shortage of mentally stimulating, diverse products geared towards girls of any age. Specifically, GoldieBlox creates toy sets that teach girls engineering.

Debbie Sterling, CEO and founder of GoldieBlox, has an engineering degree and found the lack of females in the program unsettling. Therefore, Sterling decided it was time to develop a product that would showcase the abilities of the almighty female.

In a 2013 TED talk, Sterling explained why the world needs female engineers, saying, “Engineers are making some of the biggest advances in our society; they’re solving things like global warming, making medical breakthroughs, some of the biggest technologies that are changing our lives. These are things that we use as people to make our lives better, and with half the population being female, we deserve to have the female perspective. It’ll only get better with the female perspective.”

She went on to state exactly why she created GoldieBlox. “I’m going to give [girls] the opportunity I didn’t have so that they can discover a passion for engineering much earlier than I did,” said Sterling.

A traditional GoldieBlox set includes ‘Blox and Bits,’ and a story to present a problem in need of solving. The story follows a young female engineer, Goldie, and her diverse group of friends; the motley crew presents Goldie with some predicament that can only be solved by her engineering wit.

The introduction of basic engineering principles is vital to the hopes of GoldieBlox–to interrupt the boys’ club that is math and science. Such principles include wheel and axle, hinge and lever, and belt drive. The purpose of the set is to improve spatial and problem solving skills of girls ages 4-9. The overall idea to change the engineering field comes from the statistic that only 1 in 7 engineers are female, proven through a report from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Hannah Blackburn, sophomore and founder/president of the Engineering Club, is familiar with the toy company. “I would have loved [playing with GoldieBlox],” said Blackburn.

Blackburn said, “It’s good there’s something specifically marketed towards girls in the engineering field. There are definitely a lot more guys than girls at a lot of [math/science programs]. It’s really something we need to [improve].”

Blackburn ultimately echoes the inclusive sentiment of GoldieBlox: “You can be a princess and still like engineering. They are not mutually exclusive.”

GoldieBlox seems to be much like To Kill A Mockingbird; the face value serves a purpose, but the message is the meat. While the story of “Goldie” and friends is cute and appealing, the mental stimulation and inspiration is the most praiseworthy.

In retrospect, a girl like myself–one that finds right-brained activities unappealing–would have benefited from a toy such as GoldieBlox. The toy sets provide girls with the ‘yes, math and science are for you, too,’ attitude. This statement is a far cry from the overused phrase, “I hate math.”

Unfortunately, it’s an ideal that is repeated often in media related to young girls. Reshma Saujani, CEO and founder of Girls Who Code, posted in the GoldieBlox blog, “We need to focus on girls because girls, unlike boys, are taught from an early age that computing fields are not for them.  They are inundated with media portrayals of the boy genius, the tech tycoon, and the mad scientist. (You know, the Albert Einstein-looking guy in a lab coat). Growing up, girls are handed a fashion doll who says, “Math Sucks” and sold  T-shirts that say, “Allergic to Algebra.”

In the future, GoldieBlox will counterbalance such inopportune ideals. With their empowerment of the synthesis of the princess and the engineer, the upcoming generations of girls will know what it is to be smart and beautiful.

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