I first heard about GoldieBlox last year at NYCC while talking to the women running the Brave Girls Alliance booth. You’ve probably heard of them as well, seeing as they had a very popular (and controversial) ad a while back parodying a Beastie Boys song. They more recently won a free commercial spot which aired during the Super Bowl yesterday.
Watch the full ad on Youtube here.
In a separate video on Youtube the CEO and designer of GoldieBlox, Debbie, stated that she is trying to increase the number of women in the engineering field with her new product. She feels as though the answer is to engage girls at a young age with toys designed with them in mind. The hope is to get them excited about building, science, and math.
Debbie designed the toys keeping in mind that girls are very attracted to reading. She uses storytelling in a book that comes with the set as a gateway to building with the toys.
While I agree that there aren’t enough women in science and engineering, I’m not too convinced that making building toys pink and purple will help attract girls to those fields. In general I take issue with making toys pink and purple to brand them for girls, but I understand that our society has built those stereotypes.
The real concern for me is that there are plenty of toys out there to help kids become interested in the more scientific fields. As a little girl my best friend had an erector set, I had K’nex and we both had LEGOs and Lincoln Logs. Our creations were usually massive and took up all of my bedroom, and sometimes most of the living room. I still play with LEGOs, and love stealing the sets my nephews get for their birthdays in order to build them first.
Somewhere along the line, I decided that science and math were not for me. I, like many other women, chose a mostly verbal and social field for my career. I think the key is not necessarily to just engage girls with the toys, but to keep them engaged during whatever period it is that kids begin to play with toys less.
If incorporating the storytelling and reading into the process helps keep girls engaged long enough for it to transfer into more women in science and technology fields, then this would definitely be a victory. Regardless of my feelings on the color of the toys, GoldieBlox is a innovative step in the right direction.
In the end is the bigger early childhood development challenge more about gender stereotypes and aethetics or gender stereotypes around fields of interest like engineering?