Addressing Gender Imbalances in STEM Education

LindseyheadshotGuest Blog by Lindsey Shephard 
Rainmaker and Resident Mom at GoldiBlox

At GoldieBlox, we truly believe there are millions of girls out there who are engineers, but they just don’t know it yet.  We’re thrilled to join this year’s USA Science & Engineering Festival, where we’ll be able to interact with girls and their families, showing them how fun engineering and science can be!

Like many other festival goers, we feel as though the toy industry could use some STEM love, especially among girls’ toys.  If you take a stroll down the “pink” aisle at the toy store, you’ll come across princesses, dress-up kits and dolls. When these are the only choices girls’ see as “for” them, it’s no wonder they start losing interest in STEM fields as early as age 8. While all of these options are a great way for girls to interact and imagine, it’s time to alter the way we think about toys for girls. Construction kits are great, but our fearless leader Debbie Sterling found that young girls tend to be far more avid readers than boys, and they internalize and learn more effectively through storytelling. In order to get girls really engaged in building, Debbie broke through with GoldieBlox, the first construction set with accompanying storybook, which aims to introduce engineering concepts to girls.

Our girls need encouragement not only by being provided with the right tools, but through role models.  Think about it: children’s characters who explore and share STEM concepts like Handy Manny, Bob the Builder, Thomas the Train, Jimmy Neutron, etc., are all boys.  Goldie is a pioneer in her field, allowing girls to admire a strong and confident role model taking on axles and levers who happens to be their gender. Seeing a girl in this space is so important, for boys and girls alike. By following Goldie through a series of adventures, girls are not only practicing engineering and spatial skills, but they’re learning from a girl like them, increasing their confidence that the things they’re learning are just as much for them as they are for boys. And as we grow our product line this year, we’re excited to grow our cast of characters to reflect all children who learn and play with GoldieBlox.

Engineers help solve some of our biggest technological, physical and environmental challenges. They are critical to the world economy, earn high salaries and have solid job security. When it comes to engineering specifically, women only fill 13% of the jobs. Thirteen percent! Seems ridiculous when you reflect on the fact that half the population is women, right? But by normalizing an increase of women in this field, we hope the conversation about the role of women in the workplace won't continue to be a topic of discussion far into the future.

We realize this is only the beginning, but every beginning has hope. Our hope is that this conversation and the work we and others have been doing will impact both the toy industry and the engineering gender gap years from now. That’s really a tremendous motivator for all of us here and everything we do at GoldieBlox; we’re thrilled to be recognized as leaders in driving a larger female perspective in STEM fields, and honored to share the space with so many other pioneering women and companies.

At this year’s USA Science and Engineering Festival, you’ll find GoldieBlox at booth 1658 on the National Security Pavilion in Exhibitor Hall B, where we plan to host all-day play with hundreds of available parts and videos that will teach basic engineering concepts. We’ll also have a photo wall where future innovators and their parents can show off their inventions! And, I’ll be joining Andrea Beatty, author of "Rosie Revere, Engineer," for a panel titled ““Meet the Women Leaders Spearheading Cool and Fascinating Ways to Inspire Girls in STEM.”

Since joining GoldieBlox in 2012, it’s been so exciting to connect with all of our fans and realize how many people believe in our mission.  We’re thrilled to spend three full days with STEM enthusiasts, professionals and families at the biggest STEM event of the year!.If you’ll be there, be sure to stop by our booth, say hello, and build with us!

Lindsey Shephard was Debbie Sterling’s first hire at GoldieBlox  where she currently holds the title of Rainmaker and Resident Mom.  GoldieBlox, a toy company out to inspire the next generation of future innovators, is a book series & construction set that engages kids to build through the story of Goldie, the girl inventor who solves problems by building simple machines. 

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