Amanda’s Corner: Is GoldieBlox All It’s Empowered to Be?

Amanda’s Corner
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amanda-kennedyHave you heard of GoldieBlox? It’s a line of toys that encourage girls to get building. GoldieBlox CEO Debbie Sterling was aware of the dearth of female engineers—only 11% of engineers worldwide are female, according to a statistic on their website—and wanted to spark an interest in engineering within girls right from the get-go. So she started a toy company, GoldieBlox, after a successful Kickstarter campaign (over $285,000 raised!) and launched the first GoldieBlox product, GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine, last year. Then came its second product, GoldieBlox and the Parade Float, just last month.

Here’s the mission of GoldieBlox, straight from their website: “We aim to disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers.”

This all sounds awesome, right?

Well, not so fast.

There’s been some controversy around GoldieBox lately, and honestly, I feel torn about my feelings for GoldieBlox. When their epic commercial for GoldieBlox and the Parade Float debuted, I was head over heels in love. Basically gushing over the girl power. And yeah, GoldieBlox may be geared toward girls ages 4-9, but I was so close to buying something. Here’s evidence:

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I was really into buying it—and buying into it. Until I took a step back. I really, really want to like GoldieBlox as a concept, but I lost a little respect for GoldieBlox when they sued the Beastie Boys for using their song “Girls” after GoldieBlox used the song without the Beastie Boys’ permission.

Furthermore, why use princesses to get girls interested in engineering? GoldieBlox may be touting that they are “disrupting the pink aisle,” but isn’t making a princess a main character of GoldieBlox and the Parade Float contradicting what you set out to do? Why do princesses even need to be a part of the equation to get girls interested in engineering?

But I also read an article on Slate from assistant editor Katy Waldman, who writes in response to this awesome post: “But then I remember books like The Paper Bag Princess and Dealing With Dragons—great reads about smart princesses who don’t stick to the script. Given that the princess script persists, maybe it’s OK that the toys we give girls acknowledge it—and start to show a way out.”

goldie-blox-girlI couldn’t have said it better myself. While GoldieBlox has let me down, I am at least grateful for its attempt to show girls that there is a greater world of possibility out there for them.

Basically, I’m admitting here and now that it’s ok to have a wavering opinion about something, especially if it creates dialogue. That’s why I’d like all of you to let me know your thoughts on GoldieBlox! What do you think? Sometime I’d like to test-drive GoldieBlox (I know a couple of engineers to play with, too, who could give perspective on its engineering parts)—but in the meantime, respond in the comment box below with your own rants and raves.

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