Thursday, November 21, 2013

GoldiBlox recruiting girls as engineers

"GoldiBlox: The girls' toy commercial sweeping the Internet"


Susan Rohwer

November 21st, 2013

If you haven’t seen it, check out the commercial for GoldiBlox that’s sweeping the Internet. It’s an ad for a set of interactive toys and books that encourages girls to build their own castles rather than wait for princes to come do it for them. In an age when girls’ toys painfully adhere to gender stereotypes, the message in this commercial is clear: Girls want more than princess toys for Christmas.

The commercial opens with three girls watching TV and looking unimpressed with what they’re seeing: other little girls in precious party dresses dancing around a tea set. They switch on their record player, grab their hard hats and tool belts and get to work on a Rube Goldberg apparatus assembled with household items and typical girls’ toys (everything from a tea set to a tiara and a baby doll cradle). The record player plays the Beastie Boys song “Boys,” but it’s been rewritten as “Girls” and it’s now a rallying cry against princess-toy culture: “It’s time for a change, and we deserve to see a range, ‘cause all our toys look just the same, and we would like to use our brains.”

GoldiBlox CEO Debbie Sterling invented the engineering toys tailored specifically to girls after being frustrated by the lack of other female students in her undergraduate engineering program at Stanford University. She spent a year researching how she could create a building toy for girls beyond making it pink. Her research led her to the conclusion that girls tend to have strong verbal skills, that they want to have stories and characters rather than to build for the sake of building. She incorporated these findings into her toy design and GoldiBlox was born.

The goal of GoldiBlox is to “get girls building.” And that is no small task. Women are vastly outnumbered by men in fields such as science and technology, making up only 11% of the world’s engineers. According to a report on women in science and engineering from the National Science Foundation, girls tend to lose interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) between the fourth and eighth grades. Discouraging messages from the media, parents and teachers can squash curiosity in STEM. Fostering an enthusiasm in these subjects can spark an interest that could turn into a career.

Studies have shown that the way toys are marketed has an enormous impact on reinforcing gender roles, and toy companies are woefully behind on offering gender-neutral toys. Gender gaps are closing in certain areas, according to a study of more than 4,000 kids in 12 countries done by Marketing Store Worldwide — except in the realm of toys. Boys are much more likely to have construction toys and girls are much more likely to have dolls and stuffed animals.

Although there are toys like the Easy Bake Oven that are now (and only after very pubic pressure) being marketed as gender neutral, some would argue that in the last decade the toy industry has actually increased its gendered marketing. Elizabeth Sweet, a doctoral candidate at UC Davis, researched the gendered marketing of toys in 20th century Sears catalogs and found that although the 1970s showed an increase in gender-neutral marketing of toys, this trend reversed in 1990s. By the end of the 20th century, the gendered marketing of toys had crept back to levels not seen since the 1950s. As Sweet argues, it is even more extreme today.

As any parent who has braved the toy aisles knows, girls and boys are sold vastly different kinds of toys. Girls’ aisles are brimming with pink toys, often geared toward domestic pursuits or beauty, while boys are sold action figures, construction sets and toy guns. But in a sign of a growing unease with such blatant gendering, Toys R Us in Britain recently declared that it would blend all toys together and get rid of the signs indicating boys and girls sections.

The message of toy marketing is that some toys are “naturally” for boys and some for girls, which has a powerful effect on young people. When girls are told they should play only with tiaras, baby dolls and play kitchens, it can reinforce the idea they are meant to be only domestic caretakers, not doctors or scientists. Sadly, the more educational toys — such as construction and science kits — are largely marketed to boys. This is the niche that GoldiBlox is hoping to fill.

As a girl growing up in the 1980s, I was obsessed with princesses and Barbie, but (thanks to my brothers) I also played with LEGOs and GI Joes. Pink princesses aren’t all bad, but girls should have choices about what they want to play with, and it only takes one trip to the toy store to see that the options are stark.

As a mom of a baby girl, I am heartened by the message and mission of GoldiBlox. Even if my daughter wants nothing to do with a construction set, it’s encouraging to know she has the option of having one. As best put in the commercial: “Don’t underestimate girls.”

"Will the Goldieblox ad make little girls dream of being engineers rather than princesses?"

The combination of a Rube Goldberg machine and a reworked Beastie Boys track is certainly fun. With any luck, this ad will raise some girls' aspirations as well as a smile or two


Jane Martinson   

November 21st, 2013

The Guardian

US toy company Goldieblox was founded by Stanford engineer Debbie Sterling last year because "girls need more choices than the pink aisle has to offer". The latest ad features three young girls using a selection of pink and pretty toys to set up an elaborate Rube Goldberg contraption - of the kind popularised in recent years in videos by the band OK Go - which runs through the house into the garden outside.

The words, set to the tune of Beastie Boys' Girls, turn the original lyrics on their head: "Girls, you think you know what we want. Girls. Pink and pretty is, girls. Just like the 50s, it's girls."

OK, it's a commercial, selling an interactive book and construction set starring Goldie, a blonde girl who "loves to build". When it launched on YouTube one commenter declared: "I am NOT buying in to the feminist marketing that is in demand". Just Google "girls toys" if you want to see how much that demand is really being met. The top toys are Barbie's "Hairtastic", a Barbie cash register and a Monster High toy that allows children to "add detail to the monster's hair, clothing and skin". Grooming and money, what more could a girl want?

Goldieblox toys are no panacea to the stereotyping of childhood. For a start, the toy is based on the idea that girls need more than just construction to keep them interested, a story about helping friends, say, and there is also quite a lot of pink and purple in the product itself.

But with so much research suggesting that engineering and computer science - two fields becoming more and more important in our digital age - are increasingly male dominated, any effort should be welcomed. A report from the National Science Foundation in America found that 18.2% of computer science degrees were awarded to women in 2010 compared with 29.6% in 1991, while 18.4% of engineering graduates were women in 2010 compared with 15.5% 19 years earlier.

When girls as young as eight start saying that building and construction isn't for them, a toy that shows that they can make cool stuff too can't be a bad idea, can it?

"GoldieBlox Crushes Girl Stereotypes With Jaw-Dropping Engineering Toys"


Eliza Murphy

November 20th, 2013

ABC News

Move over Barbie, there’s a new toy in town.

Judging by the insanely instant viral success of GoldieBlox’s new commercial, it’s safe to say the toy company promoting strong, smart, engineer-focused girls with a passion for building is here to stay.

The undeniably catchy re-worked lyrics to Beastie Boys’ 1987 hit, “Girls,” was certainly instrumental in the hugely successful commercial featuring three adorable little girl engineers creating one of the coolest, most elaborate mechanical toys the Internet has ever seen. But the true driving force behind the video was simply the company’s message: “To show the world that girls deserve more choices than dolls and princesses,” and that “femininity is strong and girls will build the future — literally.”

GoldieBlox founder Debbie Sterling is a Stanford engineering grad who was inspired to create toys for girls that offered more options than what is typically found in the “pink aisle.”

After she found herself isolated as one of the few female engineering majors at Stanford in 2005, she had a conversation with a friend, one of the only other females in mechanical engineering, and decided it was time for a change.

That’s when GoldieBlox, the interactive book series and construction set starring Goldie, a kid inventor who loves to build, was born.

“In our culture, the sad truth is that math and science and engineering is a boys’ club, and it starts at such a young age,” Sterling, 30, told “There’s Bob the Builder, Bill Nye the Science Guy and all these other boy geniuses, but I wanted a role model, a strong character girls can relate to.”

GoldieBlox is single-handedly crushing the typical female stereotypes, working to  increase the miniscule 11 percent of women in engineering today, which Sterling says is “one of the fastest-growing jobs in America.”

“The response has been wonderful,” she explains of her brilliant campaign highlighting the young girls, six engineers and Brett Doar, the mastermind behind OK Go!’s Rube Goldberg machine, turning a normal house in Pasadena, Calif., into a “massive, magical contraption.”

“Girls love it. They are building all kinds of cool things with it,”
Sterling added. “It’s bringing a lot of people to tears. So many moms say, ‘I was really good at math,’ or ‘I could have done this, too. My daughter can do anything, but let’s give her the choice I didn’t have.’”

Parents Convince Kids Their Dinosaur Toys Come to Life in Magical ‘Dinovember’

The product is really resonating with dads, too.

“So many dads are looking for ways to really connect with their daughters,” said Sterling. “Sometimes it’s hard or awkward for dads to play with dolls, and they can really bond with their girls over toys like this.”
The music video commercial has already amassed more than 3.5 million views since the company posted it to YouTube on Nov. 17.

“You make something and put it out in the world and cross your fingers,” Sterling said. “The video we made was so ambitious and really hits on this message I wanted to send. We don’t want to bash girls or make them feel ashamed for playing with dolls and playing dress up. I did that when I was little too, but just know there are more options out there for you to explore.”

Toys R Us ad...

[NOTE: Once again someone complained and the commercial was pulled. Never trust a link for stability.]

CEO Debbie...

Sheldon Cooper would not approve.

No comments: