You may have noticed a few recent stories in the media about children switching up gender norms. One girl became a YouTube sensation when she proved to be the star of her otherwise male peewee football team. Another successfully challenged Hasbro to create a gender-neutral Susie Bake Oven so that her 4-year-old brother could practice his love of cooking. One awesome little boy insisted that “ninjas can wear pink, too” when he chose pink shoes for his first day of school. Though these examples seem few and far between, I think it’s pretty cool that some parents and children are breaking down gender stereotypes at young ages.
The Susie Bake Oven case shows the prominent role the toy industry has in instilling gender norms. One Stanford engineer hopes to use this to her advantage. As previously discussed on the blog, engineering remains a hugely male dominated field. Sick of the lack of female engineers, Debbie Sterling (Stanford ’05) invented Goldie Blox, a toy designed to expose girls to engineering skills at an early age. Players follow the story of Goldie, a young inventor, and use their toolkits to build simple machines. Given some of the ridiculous differences in gender-specific toys today (A working vacuum for girls? A doll with bodily functions? Really?), Goldie Blox seems like a step in the right direction.
Watch the video below for more on Debbie’s story.