If you haven’t heard about Goldie Blox, here’s a quick catch up. It is a new toy available for girls created by female engineer Debbie Sterling from Stanford University in California. She saw a gap in the market for girls from a young age, and realized they had no toys or tools teaching them about the engineering industry from a young age, hence the industry is vastly male-dominated. She built a prototype, crowd-funded the heck out of it and gained huge popularity among parents.
In 2014 she became the first small business to ever feature a commercial during the Superbowl. Needless to say, this woman is on a mission to teach girls in a fun engaging way that being an engineer is far more rewarding than playing princess. Despite the fact that many toy companies say girls don’t want toys like this, the proof is in the pudding.
GoldieBlox has raised more than $285,000 on Kickstarter, garnered millions of views for a video about its toys, and pre-sold more than a million dollars’ worth of products. Not bad for a toy start-up! Its toys are stocked by big retailers like Toys R Us and Target, even expanding into the United Kingdom and Australia. They have created a handful of viral ads over the past year, and their latest video compares a girls brain when focused on princess culture, compared to a brain which is focused on building.
Young actress Reese Johnson narrates the video and features in it while talking up the positive aspects of being an engineer than a princess. Debbie’s idea for Goldie Blox was to ‘disrupt’ the pink toy aisle which is full of stereotypes pushed upon girls from a young age. If there aren’t any other options, how are they going to know how to be excited about any STEM careers?
The fact that she was able to bypass traditional methods of getting her toy sold and relying on social media, the internet, her crowd-funding campaign and the enthusiasm of parents and children who are dying for something different shows there is room to change the status quo.
VP of Sales and Marketing Lindsey Shepard says the toy industry is starting to realize the value of bringing more women into the fold: “A lot of the men in the toy industry have daughters, and many of them are tired of what they have to offer their daughters, too.”
“At age 7 girls begin to lose confidence in math and science,” says the video on a post-it note as an egg dressed up in princess attire (yes, an egg. Stay with us here…).
“At age 13 over half of all girls are unhappy with their bodies,” it goes on today, echoing the negative effects of a princess culture which is heavily dependent on looks, and outward attributes only. “Engineering jobs are growing faster than any other jobs in the United States. Female engineers earn 33% more than women in other fields,” the second part of the PSA says.
However only 13% of engineers are in fact women, they say. So while many criticize smaller aspects of what Goldie Blox are doing, the fact that their toys are still pink and are talking girls out of playing dress-ups and using their imagination, the truth of the matter is they are doing something incredibly important for the next generation.
They are showing girls they can play dress-ups but be skilled and creative in a way that can earn them a living. “It’s totally cool to be into dress-up,” says Lindsey Shepard. “It’s great to be a princess, but you can build your castle too. We want to encourage all types of girls to be whatever they want. [We are] inspiring the next generation of innovators. We have no national shortage of princesses, but we have a serious shortage of engineers in the U.S.”
At the end of the video we see the final post-it note statement reiterating that girls brains need to be nurtured and invested in right from the start.
“Girls are more than just princesses. They are our greatest resource.”