AirTalk for November 26, 2013

GoldieBlox aims to build a new generation of girl engineers

A girl walks past the shelves of La Gran

DENIS CHARLET/AFP/Getty Images

Have toys become increasingly gendered in recent decades?

Walk down just about any toy aisle and you’ll see two colors – blue for boys and pink for girls. The boy’s side has the building blocks, erector sets and tool belts. The girl’s section is dominated by ponies and princesses. Now, there’s a new toy company on the horizon that aims to “disrupt the pink aisles.”

GoldieBlox is a startup that makes and markets toys that aim to introduce girls to the joy of engineering at a young age. The Oakland-based company started on KickStarter, with an initial goal of $150,000, which they raised in less than five days.

A new commercial advertising their wares seems to have struck a chord. It was posted to YouTube on November 17 and already has over 8 million views. It’s set to the Beastie Boys' 1987 hit "Girls," with new lyrics, and features three enterprising girls engineering a Rube Goldberg-type contraption. 

 

The company’s founder, Debbie Sterling, is an engineer herself. But she says she didn’t discover her passion until high school and points out that a mere 11 percent of engineers in the United States are women – something she wants to change.

Can one, small company make a difference in the way toys are marketed to boys and girls? Why is the pink aisle so very pink? Have toys become increasingly gendered in recent decades? Could this represent a tipping point? Are companies giving kids what they want or reinforcing gender stereotypes and biases?

Guests:
Andrew Rohm, Associate Professor of Marketing at Loyola Marymount University. Director of M-School at LMU (Modern Marketing Program)

Lisa Wade, Ph.D, Professor of Sociology at Occidental College and author of the blog Sociological Images 


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