Tue
Jul 9 2013 12:30pm

More Than a Princess: Female Engineer Spends Life Savings to Design Construction Toy for Girls

Goldie Blox commercial

Women have been rallying for some time to overhaul the girl’s aisles in toy stores, tired of seeing everything packaged in pink, made for princesses, and only concerned with beauty or caretaking. But with tried-and-true brands like LEGO going out of their way to further remove girls from their central marketing, what can we expect besides more of the same?

Engineer Debra Sterling has figured it out. Because she knows little girls are more than princesses, and they deserve toys that engage their brains. With a brand new commercial to rally the troops, Goldie Blox is set to hit shelves.

First off, enjoy this incredibly badass commercial set to Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” featuring little girls constructing toys that better suit their needs and styles. They are fierce and unstoppable, and outraged that those rows upon rows of fuschia are letting them down.

If you head over to Sterling’s Kickstarter page where she originally funded the product (and got nearly twice the $150,000 she was asking for), she makes it clear that enjoying pink and princesses is not the problem. What is the problem are toys that refuse to engage girls in a constructive capacity. By conducting research on over 100 little kids, she decided to create a toy that ignited girls’ interest in engineering via storytelling (an area that girls are commonly attracted to from a very early age). Goldie Blox was born.

Through the story of Goldie—a kid inventor—and her plans for her dog Nacho, kids can follow along on the journey and construct items that Goldie requires to complete the tale. The hope is that by building girls’ confidence in areas of construction and spatial awareness, they will be more likely to pursue science and mathematics in school and beyond. Sterling herself notes that it never even occurred to her to think of engineering as a career until her final year of high school. What she wants is for young women to know that this is an option for them even in their formative years.

Goldie Blox

As she says, princesses and tiara-wearing can be fun for sure—but little girls are so much more than that. And they deserve toys that will prove it to them.

Goldie Blox’s first adventure is available at Toys’R’Us right now, with more stories on the way by the end of the summer. Support the future engineer in your family by giving her a head start!


Emily Asher-Perrin would play with Goldie Blox now, they look so cool. She has written essays for the newly released Doctor Who and Race and Queers Dig Time Lords. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

15 comments
TBGH
1. TBGH
My little girl is probably too young for this right now (just turned 2) but we have lots of fun building "castles" with oversized legos and I am bookmarking that page for future reference.
Joseph Newton
2. crzydroid
Were they not developed yet at the time of the video? I think it would've been interesting if that commercial showed the actual toy.
Joseph Newton
3. crzydroid
Also, if Lego is unwilling to stop gender polarizing, I kind of wish there were some gender neutral construction toys that showed both boys and girls in the advertising. If you watch the Feminist Frequency series on Lego, you'll see that in focusing the advertising on boys, they are also playing up a violence aspect, teaching boys to solve their problems through fighting. I saw an ad for a different kind of building block, called Rokbloks or something, but I noticed that with their minifigures there was one token female and that was it.
Deana Whitney
4. Braid_Tug
@ 3, the Feminist Frequency post was great!

What I liked was her Part 2, when it showed Lego how it was better at marketing in the Past.

I remember the "Build it and Change it" days. Last time I played Legos with my niece, I was shocked to realized that because there were so many specialized parts, that it is really hard to make something other than the designed pieces.

Wonder if Legos will keep their reputation for building imagination if they continue all the “Fight, Kill, Win” crap.
Alan Brown
5. AlanBrown
This sounds like an interesting toy, although my granddaughter is now reaching the age where this type of toy is less interesting to her. Of course, with two genius parents and the example of a mom who does carpentry and electrical work, I think she will work out just fine.
Regarding Lego, I have heard that now that the girl-oriented Friends line of Legos has been a huge hit, the Lego folks are scrambling to try to figure out how to interest those new customers in their existing lines of toys. My granddaughter, who always liked Legos somewhat, enjoys these Friends kits even more, because they involve things, like horseback riding, fashion designing and camping, that she is interested in.
And I noticed in the toy aisles of the stores, there are a LOT more building toys that are girl oriented, as competing toy companies seeing from the success of the Friends line that girls do like construction toys.
One could argue that there should be less segregation of toy aisles in the stores (and they would be right to do so), but, regarding girls and construction toys, I would say the glass is half full, not half empty.
TBGH
6. GuruJ
Maybe it's just because my daughter is too young to have hit the social blender of school, but her current favourite toys are: fairy dresses, building blocks, Fireman Sam, baby doll prams, a train set, and a bright pink bike with training wheels.

Basically I expose her to a wide variety of toys and fun activities and don't care which side of the toy aisle they come from. Why let marketing determine which toys your kids are allowed to play with?
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
7. Lisamarie
I didn't even realize LEGOs were considered 'gendered'. When I grew up with, I had Barbies and LEGOs (and also a really cool kitchen set! And a chemistry set.). I knew Barbies were 'for girls', but I never thought of LEGOs as being 'for boys'.

Nothing wrong with the Friends line in the sense that it has things like horseback riding, fashion design or camping (as somebody above has attested) of course, but it seems like the problem is that they are marketing them exclusively to girls. Why do the sets (or any toys) have to be inherently gender specific? My two year old son is really into Duplos right now; we have a Winnie the Pooh set, and a generic starter set which has a bunch of pieces in assorted sizes and colors. He enjoys playing with the pink blocks just as much as the others!
Deana Whitney
8. Braid_Tug
@ Lisamarie, LEGOs weren't gendered for decades. I grew up in the 80's. They were for everyone. I think its been in the last 10 years that they have been pushing the "boys club" thing more.

But girls still play with the sets too.
Alan Brown
9. AlanBrown
I think the skewing toward boys started with all the very detailed sets like castles and pirates, and continued with a lot of the movie tie-ins, when Lego started to make more of their money with sets that built specific things rather than general buckets of bricks. And since all of those sets were linked to movies boys preferred, things began to skew. By creating sets that make specific things girls are interested in, they are bringing the lines back in balance. And I notice that, even in the general building sets, minifigs of girl characters are much more common than they used to be.
TBGH
10. Deborah M
I don't think there is anything wrong with pink and purple legos. My son and daughter like to play with them. There are a lot of great girl toys out there. I am a big fan of Doc McStuffins, for instance. Who cares if it is pink?
Joseph Newton
11. crzydroid
@10: I think the idea is not that pink is a problem, but the fact that girls toys now use NO other colors...i.e., the idea that pink is the only color a girl can like.
Dixon Davis
12. KadesSwordElanor
I know what Elanor, my sun-star, will be getting for Christmas.
TBGH
14. Rainbowloomtoys
I think it is fantastic, the innovation and thought that some people are capable of. My hat goes off to them for thinking outside the square. Its like the father that came up with kids rainbow looms bracelets They are the number one selling item on Amazon right now in toys. One idea thats all it takes
TBGH
15. Toys for Girls
The numbers are bad and haven't improved for years. The number of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers is low. Its good to hear that to encourage girls one toy manufacturer is challenging old ideas. Hats Off!
Toys for Girls
TBGH
16. Dr. Cox
When I was a kid, I had a red 'n yellow 'n blue Tonka dump truck,
brown Lincoln logs, a multi-colored train, a green car, light brown wooden blocks and didn't wonder why any of them weren't pink.
I also had dolls (including Barbie) and a doll house, a sewing kit, cookbook, but the only things pink were the clothes, some of the furniture, and the Barbie car.
I had a book on science which featured illustrations of boys and girls learning about science, but people were always more interesting than objects and when I grew up I studied lit and my work now includes copyediting, making sure web content, business writing etc., is built correctly.

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