LEGO pissed off many parents late last year when it created a “girl-friendly” line. Why? Because it was beyond stereotypical, replete with little pink blocks and ridiculous characters like Emma the beautician and Stephanie the social butterfly. Like so many companies out there, LEGO figured if they want to attract girls, they’d have to dumb it down a bit. Which, of course, is silly and oh so wrong.
There’s no denying that many girls like dolls and princess-y things, but that doesn’t mean they can’t explore their geeky side, too. Which is why we’re loving this Roominate dollhouse – an educational toy designed to get girls interested in science, technology, engineering and math (traditional “boys’” subjects). First of all, the look alone is pretty groovy – it has a bit of a modern vintage feel that I’m obsessed with. But, more important, the stackable, attachable and customizable room comes with working circuits you build yourself. That means girls can role play, which is typical, but they can also experiment and problem solve at the same time (not so typical).
Roominate is the brainchild of Alice Brooks, Jennifer Kessler and Bettina Chen – three women who studied mechanical engineering, neuroscience and electrical engineering at some of the world’s top schools. They quickly realized they were far outnumbered by men in the classroom, which isn’t all that surprising given that less than 11% of engineers are women and only 15% of female first-year college students intend to major in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
“[Roominate] is our first step in inspiring the next generation of female technology innovators,” they write on their Kickstarter page. The women believe that early exposure to STEM through toys will inspire change, which explains how they came up with the concept for a hi-tech dollhouse. What’s cool is that girls can build and design the house themselves, but they can also wire it with electricity. It’s a brilliant way to get girls excited in the sciences, don’t you think? It’s about time we saw toys like these on store shelves!