September 19, 2013
Living In The GoldieBlox Zone
Parents and activists have been giving toymakers grief for a while now about the gender disparity in toys. For example, I wrote an article just last week about LEGO releasing a new scientist minifigure that is all the rage because it is female. I’ve heard parents both praise and condemn Nerf’s new pink toys Rebelle toy line for girls – happy that they are trying to reach girls, and upset that they are furthering the stereotypical colors.
Enter engineer Debbie Sterling. According to ABC News, Sterling is fed up with the lack of women in her field. Statistics from the National Science Foundation (NSF) show that only 11 percent of engineers are women. Sterling uncovered research showing that children’s toys could make a difference in what career they chose later in life.
A graduate of Stanford University, Sterling set her sights on building construction toys for girls after visiting a toy store.
“My head literally started spinning and I was so disappointed that there weren’t things that would inspire girls to [use] their brains,” Sterling, said. “The girl aisle was kind of about how to be pretty and I wanted to put something in there that girls can see that they too could find a passion in engineering and that they too could find these subjects fun.”
The combination of the toy store trip and the research led Sterling to GoldieBlox, a new set of construction toys designed to encourage girls to “not just play with dollhouses but build them,” too.
I took a look around their site, and I like what I see. The first design, GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine, is reasonably priced, it has both boy and girl colors along with some gender neutral colors, and the toy really is about engineering. It isn’t building a castle, it is a belt drive with an engaging story for why Goldie would want to build it.
“In creating the GoldieBlox character, I wanted to make a character that girls could relate to,” Sterling said. “She’s feminine and she loves building.”
Sterling turned to Kickstarter to fund her dream. She made a plea, uploaded a video, and set a budget of 150,000.00.
“We reached our goal in four days,” she said, “and ended up almost doubling it by the end.”
GoldieBlox is now sold in over 500 independent stores in the US and Canada. Toys R Us has picked up the toy and it is consistently in the Top 20 best-selling toys on Amazon.
“It is just amazing to see what these girls are kind of putting together,” Sterling said. “They start playing with GoldieBlox, they start building all kinds of things that none of us would have ever thought of.”
Sterling is pleased with her success, and with how the girls are responding to GoldieBlox.
“You know, the best thing about starting this company – and I know that Goldieblox is just one tiny, tiny little step — [is] that I firmly believe that in my own lifetime I’m going to see a huge shift,” Sterling said. “I’m going to see an enormous shift of more girls entering these fields, inventing amazing things, with men.”
Image Credit: GoldieBlox