iBesties Are The Rad STEM Dolls We Wish Were On The Market When WE Were Young!

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We’re not joking when we say we wish we had these dolls to play with when we were young! But thankfully the world, and the toy market is changing and expanding, and we have moms, dads, girls and boys to thank for this in large part. As a society we are so much more aware of gender stereotypes and the many studies which outline how barriers to possibilities begin at a very young age, which means the toys and resources kids are drawn to from youth are not just something cute to play with, they are an important part of their development when it comes to world views and gender roles.

So when we found out about iBesties, a range of dolls designed to empower middle school girls through books and mobile edu-tainment which will in turn hopefully inspire and enable them to become the tech and business leaders of the future, we knew immediately this was something we had to share with our audience.

The idea was launched by Jenae Heitkamp who is a child therapist, an entrepreneur and a mom, who teamed up with her sister Gina, a start-up consultant with an MBA who also wish they had something like this growing up.

They launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for production and were successful in achieving their $50,000 goal.

“Young girls are bright, inquisitive, and believe that anything is possible! But what they see in toys and media shapes their views over time. This can ultimately lead to a lack of confidence and a limited view of career choices. That is why we decided to build a brand of toys and media that help girls to dream bigger,” said the founders on the Kickstarter page.

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The book follows the adventures of six friends, turned internet moguls, after their friendship blog goes viral. The dolls are based off of the main characters in the book, who each have a special business or tech power. iBesties are as diverse as the girls who love them. Distinct in culture, personality and talents, they come from backgrounds that include blended, bi-racial, military and single-parent households. iBesties characters are modern and relevant to kids born in the digital age.

One of the huge disparities that the women wanted to change with this range of dolls is the lack of female CEOs around the world. Despite girls being told “you can be/do anything!” less than 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs are female, and women make up less than 25% of computer scientists in America.

The founders believe what girls play with and interact with on a daily basis in their youth will have a direct impact on the types of careers they choose and what they think is possible for them as women as they grow older.

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“Essentially, you can’t be what you can’t see. iBesties shows girls that they can enter STEM fields, run their own businesses and be CEOs,” say Jenae and Gina.

If we take an honest look at the dolls available on the market from mainstream and large toy companies, it is a sorry state of affairs. For so long it has been Barbie, Bratz and American Girl dolls that dominated the market without any viable competition. While Barbie is still extremely popular worldwide and in the states, we have seen a huge influx of everyday creators wanting to offer something new to the next generation of girls and boys who deserve to see the world in a more empowering and diverse way.

The huge success of Goldieblox, also launched off the back of a crowd-funding campaign, is evidence that the market is more democratic and ripe for change than ever. Parents who flock to fund new ideas and innovative toys that will open up new possibilities of the future are becoming the norm.

The statistics speak for themselves, as shown in the chart above and in the iBesties Kickstarter campaign video below. We cannot afford to raise another generation limited by gender barriers and stereotyped ideas of what girls and boys do “when they grow up”.

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“Today there’s a lot of talk in the media about women breaking glass ceilings, encouraging girls in STEM fields, and teaching girls to code,” says co-founder Gina.

“Unfortunately these concepts just aren’t trickling down to the majority of little girls,” added Jenae.

It’s not wrong to have Disney Princesses on the market, but when that becomes THE dominant aspiration for a young girl, and they aren’t familiar with terms like technology, blogging, coding or entrepreneurship by the time they are in middle school, girls are already way behind the boys.

iBesties is one of the products that hope to change the status quo and be part of a shifting generation of attitudes towards what type of entertainment girls should be bombarded with from a young age. At the moment their product is being delivered to the backers of the Kickstarter campaign, as as they announce more roll-outs in the future, we will be sure to update you on where you can get your hands on this awesome set!

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