Can Debbie Sterling's New Toy Company Create More Women Engineers?

Debbie Sterling, the twenty-six year old founder and CEO of GoldieBlox, loves engineering. But at Stanford, where she spent four years training to be an engineer, she was one of only 181 women and felt vastly outnumbered by over 500 men. It didn't take an anthropologist to see that this imbalance was purely cultural. So soon after graduation, she decided to take her finely honed design skills and even those numbers out. As Debbie explains in her Kickstarter video (which netted her new company enough money to begin production), she quickly realized that you had to start with an early intervention. Girls, she says, begin showing less interest in science, math, and engineering when they are as young as eight.

In response, she came up with GoldieBlox, which is designed for girls from 4 to 9 years old. It's a construction set with a companion book; and as girls read about what Goldie, a spunky female engineer, is building, they build it themselves. GoldieBlox is so successful that it can be found in the construction set section at more than 600 Toys 'R' Us locations and is featured in a viral video that's been seen over 4 million times on the Internet. Now, that stereotypical, pink-aisle princess comfortably wears a tool belt.

Which childhood toys nurtured your interest in science?

Images: various, GoldieBlox


I think there are a lot of other issues for women entering into the STEM fields besides lack of interest. A lot of women encounter social issues in these areas, which also need to be overcome. The ideas of this company are definitely a move in the right direction, though.

I am starting to think that this toy may help solve the problem for future generations if kids see that it is perfectly fine for a girl to be interested in building things and machines. I just know that 'lack of interest' isn't the core reason there are fewer women in STEM. Of course, the bias against women is in all fields, even academia and research.