Tuesday, November 20, 2012

May Goldie build, happily ever after

I just found the gift that I wish I could send back in time to my tween self.  Although legos are inherently gender neutral spatial development toys (prior to the special sets with space and dinosaur warriors that my son now covets), in the 70s,  they remained solidly in the "boy" aisle of the toy store.  Maybe boys used them to embrace their inner weapon designer?  Anyway, although she is nearly a generation younger, the creative force behind GoldieBlox suffered the same absence of spatial acuity toys. She never considered engineering as a field for herself until a high school calculus teacher suggested it to her--I'm glad she had that teacher, rather than Mr. "girls don't do math" at my school!   She has now applied her engineering and product design background to observe how girls play, and develop a 'toy' that combines the reading that girls love with a spatial design toolbox that allows them to explore and build solutions along with the heroine.   Reminds me of those choose-your-own-adventure books that I adored, but with a really great twist.

Debbie Sterling built only one set.  She showcased it in a promotional video to gain support on Kickstarter.  Support has been so strong that she had the startup capital she needed in only two weeks.  Goldiblox are now in their "production run" and are taking pre-orders with an anticipated delivery date of this spring.

Lily O'Donnell of policymic suggests that this toy might help close the gender pay gap, by bringing more women into such a male dominated and high paying field.  Maybe--for the women that head into this field, who also have supportive husbands and partners on their homefronts.  I'm really excited by the prospect that this toy can help many girls see engineering as way they can solve the problems that are important to them, and to make things better for other girls around the world.  What could a fleet of feminine embracing engineers bring to the table?  Maybe instead of bigger and stronger weapons, and bigger and stronger humvees, they'll find a way to stretch resources whose shortages led to political tension in the first place.

Is this the right place to ponder that maybe if Lego had included pastel bricks with their primary cousins in the first place (rather than making separate and inferior pink and lavender sets so many years after the fact), that the parents of girls might have been receptive to them all along?  Was the risk really too great that boys wouldn't have been able to see past the pastels?  Maybe, now that preschool boys are secure enough in their masculinity to assemble pink bunny machine guns (I witnessed this firsthand in my child's daycare), that worry is moot.


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