This post was brought to you by American Express. Debbie is just one Member of the American Express #PassionProject. See all of the inspiring stories here.
I’m so excited to tell you about Goldie Blox today! Goldie Blox is a new toy — an engineering toy — created with young girls in mind. And the story behind the blox is one of the American Express Passion Projects — supporting a new generation of makers, creators and mold-breakers. Girls are far, far less likely to consider engineering as a potential career, and Debbie Sterling, an Stanford engineer herself, wanted to do something about that.
I got in touch with Debbie Sterling, Founder & CEO of GoldieBlox, to learn more about her creation, and she was kind enough to go back and forth with me on some Q & A.
Q. Was there a specific moment or circumstance when the idea for GoldieBlox came to you?
A. When I was going through the engineering program at Stanford, the lack of other women in my classes was very apparent. After graduating, I kept coming back to the notion of trying to narrow this gender gap. At a brunch with girlfriends, we discussed this, and it occurred to me that it starts at a very young age, when girls are playing with toys. After taking a walk through my local toy store, it was obvious that girls are inundated with pink princesses and pop stars as kids, but not with many construction sets or STEM-related toys. Although there’s nothing wrong with pink or princesses, I created GoldieBlox simply to offer more options for girls, and to show them they can be princesses who build their own castles.
Q. What was the biggest challenge you faced between thinking of the idea and putting a product on the store shelf?
A. After coming up with the idea for GoldieBlox, I visited the New York Toy Fair to share my idea with toy industry buyers. I was immediately challenged by people who said “Engineering toys for girls don’t sell, you can’t fight nature.” I decided that girls deserved more than this outdated idea, and chose to crowd fund GoldieBlox on Kickstarter.
Q. Did the process of creating this new thing ever get so challenging that you wanted to give up? And if yes, what did you do to overcome that?
A. Bringing GoldieBlox to life has been unbelievably challenging, almost every day. There are definitely days that its hard to keep going, but I do my best to take a step back in all of the craziness and realize how far we’ve come. We constantly remind ourselves that the mission is greater than the company, and I’m lucky to be surrounded by such a great group of engineers, creatives, and other rock stars who keep me going every day.
Q. I’m sure you’ve seen many really cool things built with GoldieBlox — does any particular creation stand out to you? Or, would you share a few of your favorites?
A. We absolutely love to see girls free-build with GoldieBlox once they’ve finished the narrative portion of a set. We created an online “Playground” so that GoldieBlox fans can easily upload and share their creations. One that sticks out in my mind is “The Flipper Ripper” by Lilah Ober. Lilah used GoldieBlox Spinning Machine parts plus things she found around her house to create a contraption, and even show some story development in the process (Flavio has an audience for his stunt!). A true Goldie masterpiece! You can find our Playground here.
Of course another favorite is the Princess Machine we made as part of a viral video recently, which inspired kids all over the world to build and share their own backyard machines. We are still getting emails almost every day!
Q. When you imagine the future, and picture engineering + girls, what is your ideal picture?
A. My ideal picture of the engineering field in the future is, of course, to approach equal female representation. I know that as a country we are just beginning to address closing this gap, but since engineering has one of the fastest growing job rates in the country, it’s essential that we increase the female interest and perspective in building, creating and inventing things that shape our world.
Want to know more? Definitely check out Debbie’s Passion Project video below. What do you think? Inspiring, no? Have any of you created something with Goldie Blox yet? I’d love to hear what your kids think of it! And if you want your own Goldie Blox set, you can find them here.
This post was brought to you by American Express. Debbie is just one Member of the American Express PassionProject. See all of the inspiring stories here.