Wednesday, July 3, 2013

On raising a kick@ss girl

Today I saw an awesome ad for GoldiBlox, a new toy designed to get girls into engineering and building things.  The awesome chick who designed it, Debbie Sterling, is a Stanford engineer herself.  She got discouraged by the low numbers of other women in her engineering programs (something around 11% of engineers are women).  So she spent a year researching why it is that, by middle school, girls aren't into science and math any longer.  Turns out, girls like to read while boys like to build stuff.  Boys are spatial while girls are verbal.  This is why, when J tries to explain something he's building to me, I want him to talk about it, and he wants to draw it.  Also, girls like to know the story behind why something is being built.  Boys just like to build for the heck of it.  This explains why, so often, when J tries to explain mathematical concepts to me, I ask what the point is, and he gets flabbergasted with me, saying there is no point, it's just cool.

So simply making Lincoln Logs pink isn't enough to get girls into wanting to actually build stuff out of them.

Debbie put together a series of books with building tools, with a character called Goldie, an inventor, who loves to build stuff.  As you read along in the books, you get to build the same things that Goldie builds in the stories.  This. Kicks. Ass.

It kicks so much ass that her project was overfunded on Kickstarter in five days last fall.  And GoldiBlox are out and available for parents everywhere to buy now.  They're for children over 3, but I'm still going to order the first set, just to support the movement.

I think about stuff like this because I don't want Hannah to be a Girly Girl.  Well, mostly I want her to be her, but I want her to be really her, and not the her that is influenced by all the pink shit that the stores say she should want.  I want her to be the her who can decide if she loves technology or Lego's, or American Girl Dolls (and maybe love all of the above) without having choices forced on her by marketing people and society.  I want her to feel free to make up her own mind, and if she wants to be an engineer, I want her to feel really free to know that that's an option that's available to her.

I look at 11% of engineers being women, and that worries me.  It worries me because engineers design the products that we all use, and with only 11% o them being women, it means that I'm probably being shoved a bunch of products that marketing people think I want as a woman, rather than things that were actually designed by women.  A big dislike to that.

I want Hannah to have role models in any of her chosen fields.  There are plenty of female role models in teaching or librarianship or any number of caregiving and nurturing roles where women fit in easily.  I want more female role models for her if she wants to be an astronaut, a computer engineer, a theoretical mathematician.

And I'm sick of all the pink crap that fills the aisles these days.  This is a new development.  When I was a kid, I had a kitchen set that was orange and brown (ok, it was the 70's - I think everything was orange and brown).  Yeah, it was a kitchen set, which, you know, has its own gender-role issues.  But it wasn't pink.  Check out the graphic below.  The toys are the same, except for the color.  Freaking pink.  I'm going to do my darndest to make sure Hannah's room is a pink-free zone - I feel like that's my duty to her.  When I was a kid my favorite color was turquoise.  This crap is just wrong.  So go GoldiBlox, and I can't wait to see a future generation of girl engineers kicking ass thanks to these toys!  And if Hannah wants to be one of them, then I will applaud her (while wearing purple).

No comments: