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Nov 20 2013

Spin the doll

Girls! Girls demanding something different, girls who like to engineer things.

Fewer than 3 in 10 graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are women. And barely 1 in 10 actual engineers are women. Early in a girl’s life, the toys marketed to her are usually things that don’t encourage her to enter those fields. GoldieBlox intends to change that by teaching them while they are young that these fields can be fun — and apparently epic, by the looks of this super-genius 2-minute video. Watch and learn.

It’s a commercial for a company called GoldieBlox.

 

14 comments

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  1. 1
    besomyka

    I bought their first product when it came out for my young niece and am impressed. I hope to see more targeted to increasingly older demographics.

  2. 2
    Captaintripps

    My girlfriend showed this to me last night. One thing I really like about it is how it still mingles stereotypical colours and toys into the ad, thereby showing it’s okay to like those things if you want, but there’s also all these other great toys you can play with. They even get it down to the colours the girls are wearing, where there’s still pinks and purples. Seems like a really supportive and progressive mix to me.

  3. 3
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Wow, holy crap!
    and you can always get us dolls, and we’ll grow up like them… false
    Subversion in advertising. And it tastes so good.

  4. 4
    Orion Silvertree

    The jingle for that commercial is now stuck in my head.

    Unlike most earworms, I’m ENJOYING this one!

  5. 5
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    I like that it is still bright colors, just not so glaringly pink that it is off-putting. Marketed to girls without being insulting to them… I can live with that.

  6. 6
    Nathaniel Frein

    I have mixed feelings. I like what they’re trying to do…and I love the ad.

    But it’s still feels rather domestic.

    Twenty years ago lego sets had girls and boys on the boxes…now we need to have purple and pink legos for the girls.

    There’s nothing in these products that you can’t get from basic erector or k’nex or lego or megablox. It just feels like rather than fighting the nasty gender binary that’s come up in toys this product is simply accepting it. Instead of saying “Girls can do building toys too” it says “Here’s pink building toys for you”. And in some ways it feels exclusionary…Because it implicitly accepts the gender binary, I feel like it’s signalling that this is a toy for girls only…no brothers allowed. While I see nothing wrong with a child keeping a toy for her own and not sharing or playing with a sibling if she doesn’t want to, the toy itself should not be a barrier to the children playing together.

    Coming so soon after watching the latest Feminist Frequency, it really feels like more of the “Generic is for boys, pink is for girls”.

  7. 7
    theobromine

    I like the ad (but then I’ve always been a sucker for Rube Goldberg machines). I remember about a year ago when the kickstarter showed up, I had some misgivings about what seemed to be a single purpose toy (unlike, for example, a Lego set), but I think some of this has been improved. On the other hand, I still do find some of the statements in the kickstarter unsettling:

    the the set features soft textures, curved edges and attractive colors which are all innately appealing to girls.

    Wait, what? “*innately appealing to girls*”??? Young boys *innately* like hard and dark things?

    Last but not least, the story of Goldie is lighthearted and humorous. It takes the intimidation factor out of engineering and makes it fun and accessible.

    Perhaps I am misunderstanding this statement, but to me it seems backwards to try to attract girls to engineering by making it friendly and “easy enough for a girl”. Engineering isn’t easy, it’s often challenging and frustrating. “We do these things not because they are easy but because they are hard”. But there’s no reason that girls are not up to the challenges and able to overcome the frustrations just as well as boys.

  8. 8
    Nathaniel Frein

    Last but not least, the story of Goldie is lighthearted and humorous. It takes the intimidation factor out of engineering and makes it fun and accessible.

    I don’t really have a problem with this, because pretty much any engineering toy does the same thing.

    You start a kid with Duplo, then basic lego sets. Then you let the kid move on to technic, or erector sets, and then on and on. Basically, you start the child with simple, easy to use tools and if that child is interested, that child will master those tools and want more complex tools in order to continue.

  9. 9
    theobromine

    @Nathaniel: Fair enough, but I think the part I object to is the idea that the simplification is not because the users are children but because they are girls. One of the problems I have seen with getting girls into engineering is that often bright girls are reluctant to try anything they might not be able to excel at. Part of being able to succeed at engineering is being willing to try things that might not work.

  10. 10
    shari

    Finally got around to watching this, and here’s what I got now.

    #1 – my daughter watched it five times in a row. Loving it.

    #2 – wants to work on this stuff with her brother- hell yes, santa is so putting this under the tree for her.

    #3 – regarding Why it Has To Be Appealingly Colored with Cute Animals – anyone else see a way to rope in girls who are already pink biased? Really?

    Kids who are not already pre-conditioned to freaking LOVE pink and sparkly maybe don’t need cute color schemes or cute ‘relatable’ images.

    Every other kid (my daughter loves pink and sparkly, as well as cute frogs, turtles, and hairless cats) do need something to catch their eye. The toy needs to fit into their mindset of themselves before it will be good at Changing their mindset of themselves.

    True for my kid. True for everyone else? I dunno, i’ve neither asked nor investigated. All in all, i consider this a win – the set I ordered has 16 different configurations that she is eager to check out. At age 6, the cute animals are part of what she envisions as imaginative play. She likes not-cute animal toys too, but they need an intro to her (via her elder brother, usually) before she is open to them.

    That’s my report from the field. And Theobromine at #9 – to expand on your point about just getting kids in engineering – both my kids do have a problem with trying things they are not sure will work. My son even more-so than my daughter, but from discussion with the specialist at our school I think it’s true for sensitive children in general…

  11. 11
    theobromine

    RE pink, cute & sparkly: I actually think that all children like this sort of thing, but it gets conditioned/socialized *out* of boys. (At least that has been my experience.)

    Re failure: good point about sensitive kids (or even adults) having a problem with the idea of trying something that might not succeed quickly (or at all). One of the nice things about Lego (and similar construction toys) is the very low cost of failure, combined with a reasonably high level of reward for success. Again, my objection is not to the idea that *kids* need easy wins, but that *girls* need easy wins.

  12. 12
    shari

    @11 – pink etc. Not just the kids…..yours truly likes either homespun/burlap/muslin OR – soft scarves with pale iridescent sequins/silver threads/gemstone accents. jekyll-and-fashion-hyde issues, over here ;-) Sparkly attracts attention whilst i ‘look’ for ‘depth’ (says the woman who dreams in pottery barn t.m.)

    I agree with the low-risk/high reward nature of Lego and similar – not sure about your objection – is it your sense that that the wins are ‘easy’ with the goldiblox set? Toys that are too frustrating won’t get full use – my son’s issues with too challenging lego sets mean my HUSBAND has had more of the gratification of lego sets than my kid! Scaling challenge to age makes sense, but I got zero sense that the gb set was dumbed down for female use. The statement about making the game fun and accessible I read as ‘easily engaging’. Non-intimidating is a plus, because this toys best use (imo) is about girls shaking their comfort zones.

    I am not a deeply critical thinker or reader (quelle suprise!) so I’m likely not digging into this with the thought you are, but I absolutely am on board with challenging cultural norms and looking to better them. The stakes are awfully, awfully high.

  13. 13
    theobromine

    I actually do get the sense that Goldieblox was dumbed down for girls, but perhaps I am being overly sensitive. I don’t have any objection to easy-win toys on principle. My objection is to the idea that *girls* especially need the easy wins. One of the worst things about gender-specificity is the fact that the differences between individuals in each group far outweighs the difference between just about an average or typical measure within a group. It may be that some boys would do better with the Goldieblox style, but because it is so girl-targeted, they are not likely to be able to take advantage of that.

  14. 14
    shari

    It will be good to see (as besomyka said) if they have sets that scale-up in challenge (it would be odd if they did not, from what I’ve looked at.) I think they are soliciting user input and that may help drive the development. Since I am having a hard time finding toys that are not stereotype-heavy for my daughter, I am honestly celebrating every company that is trying to change the game!

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