I’ve recently come across GoldieBlox which is a startup with a kickstarter which has successfully met it’s funding goal to create a set of construction toys aimed at young girls.

While the goal is laudable, it could be carried out in a way that undermines the goal. GoldieBlox seems to get it, and I think this will appeal.

Even so, I’m left wondering, what is it about other sorts of construction toys that end up not appealing to young girls. I think something like GoldieBlox may be needed, not because there is anything inherent or intrinsic that it has that appeals more to girls than boys, or that, for example, LEGO has that appeals more the girls than boys, but all the meta-messaging around them.

Here’s what the inventor, Debbie Sterling, has to say about it:

Designed for girls

GoldieBlox goes beyond “making it pink” to appeal to girls. I spent a year doing in-depth research into gender differences and child development to create the concept. My big “aha”? Boys have strong spatial skills, which is why they love construction toys so much. Girls, on the other hand, have superior verbal skills. They love reading, stories, and characters.

GoldieBlox is the best of both worlds: reading + building. It appeals to girls because they aren’t just interested in “what” they’re building…they want to know “why.” Goldie’s stories relate to girls’ lives. The machines Goldie builds solve problems and help her friends. As girls read along, they want to be like Goldie and do what she does.

Goldie’s toolkit is inspired by common household objects and craft items – things girls are already familiar with. Plus, the set features soft textures, curved edges and attractive colors which are all innately appealing to girls. Last but not least, the story of Goldie is lighthearted and humorous. It takes the intimidation factor out of engineering and makes it fun and accessible.

Kickstarter and Publicity

The GoldieBlox Kickstarter was fully funded in October 2013, and they are seeking to get promotion during the Superbowl running an ad. They currently have a fabulous video of a Rube-Goldberg-style construction, which is pretty fun, while the lyrics of the music being sung are pretty strongly confrontational against the traditional stereotypes of what constitutes “girls’ toys” and “boys’ toys.”

Have a watch:

(Or see the video on Youtube at http://youtu.be/UFpe3Up9T_g.)

Post script

I just found Debbie’s TEDx talk, and I think I understand. GoldieBlox appeals to girls on multiple levels, with multiple points of contact. But more than that, it appeals to parents who have seen the gender divide in what is available for them in the mainstream in terms of what toys you can give to little kids. The pink aisle, vs. the blue aisle. GoldieBlox is breaking this scheme, not be providing something other than pink, but by providing a product that transcends the stereotype of what pink means: dolls, dolls, dolls.

Here’s Debbie’s TED talk:

(On Youtube at http://youtu.be/FEeTLopLkEo.)