In case you couldn’t tell last week, I’ve been a little bit excited about the launch of a new toy line called Goldie Blox. It’s an engineering toy designed specifically to appeal to girls, and it should be shipping to my house right around my daughter’s fifth birthday in February. I think it’s fate that the toy is targeted for girls ages five – nine.
This weekend, I had the amazing opportunity to chat with the founder and CEO of Goldie Blox, Debbie Sterling, about whether or not she designed her product for my daughter personally. I mean, as I’ve mentioned before, engineering is my little girl’s thing. I’ve been begging for people to help build strong role models for my little girl. This sounds like it was made for us, right?
Well, it turns out that the toy wasn’t made just for my family, but it was made with little girls like mine in mind. In fact, Sterling herself was once a girl like mine, who just never even though to pick up the blue-skewed toys in the boys’ aisle. While there’s nothing saying that girls can’t pick up traditional LEGOs or K’nex sets, there is an intimidation factor. It’s an issue that girls encounter in advanced math classes and even into the business world. Sterling explains, “I definitely thought of physics and math and engineering, I thought of those as things for boys. It’s just a cultural thing. Bill Nye the Science Guy, those types of characters are male. It’s intimidating for women to throw themselves into a male-dominated fields. Women feel the pressure to out-perform men in order to make the cut. Even at Standford, they looked at me like ‘Really?’ I always felt like you need to be a born genius in math to make it, growing up and all through college. Even now in Silicon Valley, there’s this elite group of engineers and it’s a very male-dominated club. There’s a constant reminder of why I’m making Goldie Blox.”
So, if the goal was to make the field of engineering a little more diverse, why didn’t Sterling create a gender-neutral toy that would interest boys without intimidating girls? Why go for the pink girl toy? Debbie told me, “I think what originally inspired me is because I saw such a gap in the toy aisle for something that spoke to girls. I think over time I definitely want to grow Goldie Blox into a gender-neutral brand. I think that even with the first toy, boys will like it too. But I wanted to do something just for girls to start because I think there are lots parents that wouldn’t think to buy a gender-neutral toy for their girls.”