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Monday, October 22, 2012

78

New Toys: Talking With Engineer and GoldieBlox Founder Debbie Sterling

Debbie Sterling never thought about becoming an engineer until a college art professor told her she should consider it as a major. “I didn’t even know what engineering was,” she says. “I thought it was people in overalls making trains.” Eleven years later, after graduating as one of the few female engineering majors in her class at Stanford, Debbie's launching a start-up toy company with the mission to get and keep young girls interested in engineering.

Working from her small San Francisco studio apartment, with only two full-time employees and a shoestring marketing budget, Debbie designed GoldieBlox, a toy/game/book combination that focuses on the character of Goldie, a sprightly, overalls-wearing girl with a tool belt and mismatched socks, who wants to be an engineer. Geared for 5-9-year-olds, the toy teaches spatial recognition skills via the toys and a companion storybook and game board. Debbie launched a Kickstarter campaign a month ago to pre-sell their first toy, and it's already raised more than $285,000. I had a chance to interview Debbie about her awesome toy, and why the world needs more female engineers.

Debbie, when did you know you loved engineering?  

I really liked art as a kid, and I had a college art teacher who said, “your drawing style looks very technical, have you thought about engineering?” I took Mechanical Engineering 101 at Stanford, and it blew my mind. It wasn’t like the stereotypes at all, it wasn’t nerdy, it was actually very artsy — we had assignments like designing an object to launch a tennis ball as far as you can using a soda can and a piece of string. I loved it. 

Studies show that the majority of female college students aren't interested in engineering by the time they get there, and that only 20% of women with a degree in math or science end up working in a related field. Was there a moment at Stanford that made you realize the engineering department wasn't catering equally to women?  

It was instantly obvious — there were mostly men in all of my classes. The engineering major at Stanford is 80% male, and only about 10% of engineers in the U.S. are women. My friends thought it was kind of hardcore that I majored in it.

I first took an engineering drawing class, and I had always been good at drawing, so I thought I was going to nail the class. While my drawings for that 3-D perspectival drawing class were artistically beautiful, they were technically incorrect, because I hadn’t yet developed the appropriate spatial skills. The class was taught by these two male TAs. I remember that in front of the entire class, one of the TAs held up a drawing I did and asked, “Who thinks Debbie should pass this assignment, and why not?” It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. I knew I could do the drawing, I just needed the foundation, the training they weren’t providing.

What was it like when Larry Summers, then-president of Harvard University, said that men make better engineers than women?

There was a popular study in the 1970s that claimed men have superior spatial skills than women, based on data from a mathematical reasoning test that found that men are three times as likely as women to do well when mentally rotating three-dimensional objects in space. Since spatial skills are so essential in engineering, this study has led to a popular assumption that men make better engineers than women. But other tests have been done that show that women, when they practice spatial skills, test just as well as men, and that education, not gender, makes the difference.

I want to ensure that young girls have the opportunity to practice spatial skills just as frequently and as well as young boys, who spend the majority of their childhood learning spatial skills while playing with traditionally male-focused construction toys like Bob the Builder, Thomas the Train, Lego, and Playmobil.

It seems most attempts by the mainstream toy industry to make the toys that are popular with boys also popular with girls have turned to lame, often sexist solutions: change the basic color scheme to pink and purple, or use a stereotypical story. Examples include Lego’s Clicks in 2003 which encouraged girls to make bracelets and room décor — and their Lego Friends line from earlier this year. Why is GoldieBlox different?

We’re going beyond the traditional "take a construction toy for boys and make it pink” approach. My team worked with neuroscience experts at Harvard and tested our toy with more than a hundred girls, finding that young girls best learn spatial skills by leveraging their verbal skills. Girls like to read, they like to tell stories. So with GoldieBlox, girls learn spatial skills through a companion storybook, in which Goldie plays with her friends and builds things.

Why is it so important that more women become engineers and that we close the gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields?

Engineers solve the world’s biggest problems. We need the female perspective in engineering. Women have high skills in empathy, they tend to design things with people in mind; things that people really need, because they understand human emotions. We’re building a toy company based on this vision — that by teaching spatial skills to girls we will inspire the next generation of female engineers — of women who will design a more empathetic and compassionate world.

How excited do you feel that your Kickstarter campaign was fully funded in only five days? What’s next for Goldie?

The campaign proved that consumers actually wanted to buy the toy for their girls; that parents want more for their daughters than just princesses, they want to give their daughters more options to choose what they want to be when they grow up.

But this is about building a movement. The bigger the campaign gets, the bigger a message we send to the toy industry, to stores who hopefully will sell Goldie, to parents who might think differently about what they buy for their children.

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?

Do the thing you think you cannot do. Don’t be intimated by things that seem impossible. If you truly have a strong passion, nothing can stop you. Why not go for what you really want?

 

To learn more about Debbie and her engineering toys, check out GoldieBlox.com and its Kickstarter campaign.

Smiley Poswolsky is also on Twitter



78 Comments / Post A Comment

laserbeams

This sounds pretty great! I wonder if it can teach me engineering skills? I'm... older than 5-9.

lindsey@twitter

Ack! I love this!! I did French and English my first time through college, but now I'm back doing Mechanical Engineering. I see so many of the same things Debbie talked about (except my engineering profs are all very supportive and encouraging of women in engineering- no sneering, just explaining that it takes women a little bit of practice to get the spatial skills).

It's weird- my dad is an engineer and has told me my entire life that I should be an engineer. I was completely convinced that I was *bad* at math and science and everything. I'm not. I just thought I was. I'm doing well in my classes and I love it.

Blah blah blah gush gush gush this is why it's so important for toys like this to exist, and for societies like ASME and SWE to do outreach projects with people of ALL ages. Because you can decide to be an engineer at 26. Or at 7. Or at 18. Or whenever.

districter

@lindsey@twitter Inspiring to know you are going back to school to take a compleatley different track!

I was the same way except both my dad AND my mom were engineers so I had little excuse but was still convinced that I "just wasn't good at math," despite taking advanced math classes through highschool. It is strange how conditioned we can be to believe our brains only work one way no mateer how much evidence we may see to the contrary.

lindsey@twitter

@districter Yes! I am convinced that the reason so many people think they're bad at math is because we teach it in a different way than we do languages. I don't always get the math stuff in class, but I can always figure it out in my own way, you know? I just keep seeing so many parallels between learning a language and learning Chemistry, for example, that I just have to think we're not teaching as well as we could.

And going back at 26 is fantastic. Except for having to be friends with people 8 years younger than me. That part is harder, but still ok :)

RK Fire

Noooo I missed out on purchasing one of these via Kickstarter! Is there any possibility that these would be available for purchase for the holidays? I've got a bright five year old niece who loves Disney Princesses, reading and is deeply bought into "boys thing"/"girls things" world view.. which, quite frankly, I was as well as at her age. But I really want to give her the chance to do some activities that will stretch her spatial and building skills beyond jigsaw puzzles.

aphrabean

@RK Fire I know! I know a princess-crazy 5 year old who is also super into conducting impromptu science experiments, and I think this would be perfect for her, but it looks like they won't be ready for shipping till February 2013.

HotDish

@RK Fire Have you seen Camelot Jr? I bought it for my 5-year-old daughter - it's a great spatial reasoning game, and she has bought in to the princess thing hard-core (despite my best efforts to stem the tide of pink and purple and glitter). As a side note, I like that in half the puzzles the knight rescues the princess, and the other half the princess rescues the knight.

http://www.amazon.com/Fundex-3451-Camelot-Junior/dp/B003QCMSAY

RK Fire

@HotDish: Thanks for the suggestion! I'll definitely check it out.

ghechr

@RK Fire I, too, would like to purchase one. Shipping time doesn't really matter but because it's been fully funded it looks like I can't order one anymore? Am I totally missing something?

RK Fire

@ghechr: That was my quick assessment as well, so I guess we'll just have to follow updates from the website!

HeyThatsMyBike

@RK Fire Guys! You can preorder on her website for delivery in February. http://www.goldieblox.com/products/goldieblox-and-the-spinning-machine

social theory

i'm into this general concept, but if you want to counter essentialist stereotypes like "men are better at engineering" or "men have better spatial skills," don't resort to equally problematizable essentalist claims about women (women "understand human emotions" or that tired old empathy thing) when you're marketing your toys. socialization, y'all (says the sociologist).

social theory

@social theory but before i get jumped all over, i love the rest of it, and this totally jives with what i've heard/read about engineering. it's just that the epistemic resources we draw on to support our claims sometimes undermine the claims themselves.

Lily Rowan

@social theory YES. Thank you.

That was one of the things that gives a little bit of pause about this, despite how awesome I think the idea is.

theotherginger

@social theory that's exactly what I was thinking - women are socialized to be empathetic and 'nice' and such - we are not necessarily more that way than men. I do like the toy though

Blushingflwr

@social theory I had the same reaction. (also a social scientist, with many friends who are engineers)

queenofbithynia

@social theory Yeah, that was amazing. I have no empathy or compassion, so I guess it is OK that me and my tits dropped honors math before my senior year of high school? I wasn't going to bring human emotions or a female perspective to a STEM career, so no great loss, I guess.

Blushingflwr

@social theory I will say though that I think there's some merit to the idea of needing a woman's perspective. We have different biology, and we experience different socialization, which means we may have a different perspective on things. Diverse perspectives in general are going to lead to better design. Even the most empathetic able-bodied cis-gendered man still has a limited perspective. Encouraging women, people of color, people with disabilities, etc to pursue STEM fields can only be a good thing.

Blackwatch Plaid

@Blushingflwr Definitely agree about the need for a woman's perspective. My boyfriend was working on some app design the other day and asked for my opinion. I picked it up and instantly said "nope, my hands are too small to use this." He's very much a feminist, but the size difference in our hands and how we hold our phones hadn't occurred to him.

queenofbithynia

@Blackwatch Plaid oh god how many things in the world are designed for a 5'10'' human with a flat chest and narrow hips

(approximately all of them.) (except I read one time that kitchen counters are designed for the average woman's height instead of the average man's, because women's work, but I am not sure if that is true.)

but that is a fucking great example of how the woman's perspective is A. totally crucial and B. fuck-all to do with empathy or compassion or people skills. It is strictly to do with imagining a woman as the default human being -- which is to say the confidence required to place oneself and people like oneself at the center of the imagined world.

theotherginger

@queenofbithynia yes! I find this particularly annoying at the gym. I am tall, but not a man, so the machines often don't work for me - although hilariously as I am out of the country in a place with shorter people, the treadmills and ellipticals are too small!

social theory

@Blushingflwr i so agree with you that diversity of experience is a good thing in engineering (and many arenas)! my objection is the essentialist rhetoric, not the intent of the project. i, too, want STEM fields to be more diverse. :)

Blushingflwr

@social theory I totally agree with you on the essentialist rhetoric (see my other comment). It's especially frustrating when there are so many reasons to encourage girls and women to go into STEM fields without having to resort to the same gender essentialism that is partially responsible for their absence from those fields!

social theory

@Blushingflwr yes. i swear this is the thought i was trying to have before i read the philosophy article and gave my brain all the gin it wanted. well put, colleague.

MilesofMountains

@Blushingflwr To be fair to Debbie, she never actually uses gender essentialism. The fact that women tend to exhibit stronger empathy skills seems to be pretty well supported in studies, and knowing that it's probably due to socialization doesn't change the reasoning that more women engineers mean more empathetic engineers. There's just other reasons to want more women engineers, too.

Inkling

@social theory
I usually sub in "people (when people are treated by society as women are treated by this society)" because I assume that's what she means. It's true, people who are underpriviledged get used to thinking about other people, because they are "other people" in their own world. It has nothing to do with being XX creatures, which is an embarrassing fact.

Blushingflwr

@MilesofMountains The first time I read "Women have high skills in empathy" in this article, it smacked of "women are nurturers" essentialism to me. Re-reading it, I can see how she never says why women are more emapthetic, so the statement can be interpreted in many ways.

I also want to say that I think this is a great idea. I love that she did research on how to appeal to girls beyond "pink" and "shopping" and how to teach the spatial and problem-solving skills engineers need in ways that will engage young girls who might not be otherwise eager to play with blocks. There is a strong possibility I may pick this up for the young girls in my circle (I don't have any siblings, but that doesn't mean I don't have any nieces!).

calamity

@theotherginger The size of the towels at the gym is the thing that ever-so-forcefully reminds me that this world was designed for men. Whoever decided that length was acceptable had obviously never considered that some humans have breasts.

planforamiracle

@social theory I totally get what you said about essentialism... but at the same time, I really identified with what she said about girls' verbal skills and interest in stories. More essentialism, I guess, but stories are such a good way to build understanding in kids' minds.
On her kickstarter page she says it's often not enough to interest girls in WHAT they're building, they want to know WHY they're building it. I think if a toy like this can stimulate a girl's imagination enough to create narratives that involve building, it could really help them to think in new ways, which is what I understand is the goal of this toy.

theotherginger

@planforamiracle yeah. I think the annoying thing about this (and life, to be frank) is that it relies on the way boys and girls are socialized to encourage girls/women in engineering. HOWEVER it is extremely practical and cool.

MilesofMountains

@Blushingflwr Hmm, yes, I guess it could read that way. Personally, as a "stereotypicaly feminine" woman in a STEM field, I've seen a lot of messages within the field that of course women can be scientists...provided they have nothing to do with anything feminine and are content with fitting into the restrictive "how scientists work/think/behave" mold. Personally, I think my empathy, verbal skills, focus on narrative etc. are something positive I bring to a field and something a lot of other women are fighting to become an accepted way of practicing science.

ponymalta

@theotherginger I think even if she is relying on gender-differentiated socialization, it's not necessarily problematic. I think that we're taught to think that girls are socialized to have inferior qualities like empathy and storytelling, and boys are socialized for superior ones like spatial reasoning, but in my opinion it's more the way we value those differences that are problematic then the differences themselves. Like @MilesofMountains says, empathy and verbal skills are assets in engineering too, and bringing a diversity of perspectives to any field is important if it's going to be useful for society at large.

I don't disagree that when I read this I thought, "But does it have to be so stereotypically girly in colour?" But then I also wondered why I consider the colour palette for toys designed for boys (blues/greens/reds/blacks) to be "neutral." I don't know if I'm articulating that well-- but maybe I feel inclined to add my own social values (girly toys are lame, toys for boys are better) to this rather than just accepting that she's made a great product that is girly without dumbing down, and the dumbing down of products for girls doesn't have to be an inherent part of how they are produced and marketed-- they can frame feminine qualities (learned or socialized or whatever) in positive ways, rather than the two more common options, which are "You are a girl so here is your stupid toy" or "You can play with better toys, but we'll make it obvious that we designed them for boys."

Too much analysis? :)

theotherginger

@ponymalta not too much. only too much awesome.

fondue with cheddar

GoldieBlox looks great! I want to buy one for my niece!

I always tested well in spatial skills. I remember taking one of those what-should-I-be-when-I-grow-up tests in middle school and it said I should be an auto mechanic or rocket scientist. That made me feel super cool. Then again, I always played with Legos and other building toys. The daycare I went to had those big Legos (Duplo?), wooden blocks, Lincoln logs, tinkertoys, AND bristle blocks, and I loved playing with them all. When I played with Barbies I spent as much time building houses for them out of boxes as I did dressing them and brushing their hair. And I loved playing with my brother's toys: Matchbox cars, GI Joes, Transformers.

The pink sparkly princess stuff bothers me (not that it shouldn't exist but it's what girls are told they should like). But what saddens me more is that it's more acceptable for girls to play with "boy toys" than it is for boys to play with "girl toys".

theotherginger

@fondue with cheddar yes. men only go down in status when they act like women. what does that say about our idea of men and women?

ghechr

@fondue with cheddar I have a 5 year old niece who is really into princesses. Although, thankfully she seems to be less and less interested in them as she's gotten older. No one has told her that she must like them. She just does. Maybe it comes from her friends? Because it certainly does not come from her parents. Just sort of wondering how these messages get across - girls like X, boys like Y. Television commercials?

Plant Fire

@fondue with cheddar I don't really have a good answer for your question but I just started reading Delusions of Gender which is supposed to cover exactly what you're asking about so...maybe that would be something to look into.

harebell

@ghechr
It's their peers at playtime. (If they watch t.v. -- that, too).

Watching all my little nieces go through the vomitous pink stage despite open-minded family influences has been crazy - and definitely makes me wonder if I am patient enough to be a mom! I think it has to do with how hardwired it is at that age for them to figure out gender and how gender works.

Inkling

@harebell
I remember that commercialized femininity was extolled to a virtue. It's taught in the same way, I guess? Good people like you share with your friends (Playdo ads). Good people like you wear pink to school (Target ads). I remember wondering if it was uncivilized to only watch the animal parts in Cinderella or wrestle like I knew it was uncivilized to eat only cookies or pick your nose.

Kids don't have a good grasp on WHY some stuff gets rewarded, just that it does, so I think there's the vague understanding of expectations that are easy to follow. Oh yes, I can wear a color. I can choose the right toy.

Plant Fire

@ghechr Also just because some girls do like princesses and pink and sparkles doesn't mean that they do because they're girls. I find that a lot of people (not talking about you, just people in general that I've spoken to) seem to take an attitude that stereotypically girly things are bad and then get disappointed if female children enjoy those things, viewing it as a failure to encourage girls to like good (aka stereotypically male) things. When in reality it should be more about encouraging people to like whatever they like (which can include boys liking pink and girls liking pink and girls wanting to become engineers and so on). A lot of the reason that girls tend to prefer those things is because of socialization that starts from when they are very very young. But I think the focus should be on making the world a place where that kind of socialization doesn't happen anymore, rather than focusing on making girls who already enjoy one thing like something different. Sorry if that didn't all make sense..I haven't had much sleep.

Plant Fire

@harebell I wouldn't be surprised if peers and the outside world play a much bigger influence in how children develop these things than family (not that families shouldn't try and present their kids with options and encouragement, just that sometimes it's not enough). That said, kids will often grow out of it.

I was in the opposite situation as your nieces, I had a pretty even amount of stereotypically male and female interests and ended up having more male friends for a while in elementary school. Because of this I was very heavily exposed (thanks to my male friends) to the idea that girl things are stupid, pink and sparkles is stupid, and people who are interested in stereotypically female things have less important interests than people who like math and science and sports. And honestly, a ton of girls I knew had that same attitude. Even women I know now do, just a couple months or so ago I listened to a pregnant acquaintance say that she hoped she didn't have a girl because she couldn't deal with the whole pink and sparkles thing (which, one, those things aren't of the devil it's not so bad to learn to identify with kid who isn't 100% like you and two, why do you assume she's going to turn out like that just because she's a girl? Sorry, that comment really frustrated me).

So anyway, I hid my interests in stuff that was considered to be "for girls" until late middle school when I finally realized that that was bullshit and just because I was good at math and liked video games didn't also mean that I had to hide the fact that my favorite color was pink and I liked painting my nails sparkly colors. It did mean that people were less likely to believe that I could enjoy science or be good at building things and that if people knew what my favorite color was or that I was planning to major in fashion that they would take me less seriously. But honestly, I'm happier now that I have a mix of interests.

I guess what I'm trying to say with that is maybe your nieces will eventually realize that their pink stage is not really who they are, just like I realized my anti-pink stage wasn't me either.

Fissionchips

@fondue with cheddar I have this brilliantly vivid memory of being around 3 at my Mum's university creche/daycare, it was when the Disney Little Mermaid film had come out, and one of the boys had a Little Mermaid doll. I asked if I could play with it for a bit and he said 'No, it's a BOY'S TOY'. So there ya go.

ghechr

@Sea Ermine My niece is growing out of it. Interestingly, it seems to be because she started kindergarten and princess infatuation is considered babyish.

fondue with cheddar

@ghechr My niece just started kindergarten too, and she's traded her princess infatuation for Strawberry Shortcake infatuation. I loved SS when I was a kid so this makes me happy, though it's weird that the characters are all so grown-up looking now. Remember when they looked like little girls and not teens?

Jolly Farton

@Sea Ermine I'm reading this so late, but yes yes to all the things you said. Let people like what they like! Simple as that. (well as long as it doesn't hurt anybody else)

Daisy Razor

Baby Razor is getting one of these! (Plus a t-shirt and sunglasses, which is fab because my kid is all about accessories.) My family is full of engineers, but I'm the writer. My 3-year-old daughter, on the other hand, has already shown better visual-spacial skills and attention to detail than I have in my entire life. I am so excited for this! I think she's going to love it and it'll teach her things I can't.

theotherginger

@Daisy Razor go baby razor go!

schrodingers_cat

Part of why I left the university I was doing an astrophysics major at (I'm now studying planetary science because field work is more fun than theory) is because only about 20% of the freshman physics majors were girls, and there was only one other girl in my lab section. I got really tired of being stared at like I was in a zoo just for showing up to class, and professors and TAs contributed to that. So yeah, if you want to keep women in STEM fields? Don't make them feel like specimens.

LaLoba

@schrodingers_cat My boyfriend is taking a class with mostly grad engineering students and the professor is a woman. There's one woman in the class and he said the first day he heard the professor telling her sort of, "Hey, I will have your back through this, I am now your adivsor and I got you." Which I liked hearing, and I'
m glad all those young men are getting this incredibly hard class taught to them by a woman.

schrodingers_cat

@LaLoba That is awesome, and is also the kind of thing my professors at the school I'm at now do (and none of them are women! they just happen to be considerate men). I had an admissions counselor recently, on noticing how outnumbered girls were in the field science classes, ask what they could do to change that, and my answer was that it starts way before the college admissions process.

anachronistique

My sister, who almost did engineering but settled on comp sci, FLIPPED when I linked her to this - and my parents donated to the Kickstarter for her birthday. She's getting the hoodie in a couple months. :')

Blushingflwr

It just occurred to me that it is kind of an insidious trick of the patriarchy to say that women don't have spatial skills when sewing and weaving and knitting and other things like that have been considered "women's work" for so long. Those things all require a certain degree of spatial visualisation.

cutselvage

@Blushingflwr right? I maintain that sewing things - particularly drafting patterns - requires excellent spatial reasoning, since you're going from a 2D flat design and making it fit a 3D body. If that's not spatial reasoning, I don't know what is.

Plant Fire

@cutselvage But that attitude still applies even in industries that are women's work, it's just that the women will be involved in the lower levels and then men will be more likely to be head pattern drafters and tailors and in the upper levels of the garment industry. From what I understand (at least based on what my professors told me when I was studying fashion) is that the apparel industry is very male dominated despite being overwhelmingly female. I wouldn't be surprised if it's because of the idea that women sew clothes at home for their families while men work in the industry producing apparel.

Elsajeni

@Sea Ermine Much like cooking -- women are "cooks," who fix dinner for their families, and men are "chefs," who fix dinner for rich fancy people.

dontannoyme

This looks great and I will get one for my 6 year old for Christmas. And completely agree that sewing and knitting have these skills embedded in them but they are not cool and do not make you much money so women's abilities in this area are completely ignored.
Isn't Larry Summers the idiot who said that girls and boys are wired differently because he saw his daughter using trucks as family members and saying "look, mummy truck is carrying baby truck". I think of him every time my three year old boy says to me "This is mummy whistle and this is baby whistle" - ie, every single morning.

Jennifer@twitter

Lady engineer here. My school was 75% male. I'm the only female engineer at my company. I've been reading up on why there are so few ladies in STEM fields and working a bit to change it. I funded this and am beyond excited that it's going into production. I know in our ideal world everyone would buy their daughters legos too, but that doesn't seem to be happening overall. Little girls are still overwhelming being socialized to like pink, "girly" things and this fits the bill while also working girls' spatial skills. I love this toy.

C.SanDiego

@Jennifer@twitter My dad owns a fairly large engineering firm and I am constantly on him to hire more lady engineers. Interestingly, he's convinced that in the next 10 years or so the male-dominated fields will become female-dominated because women are starting to outnumber men in almost all areas of education. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out, but in the meantime I'll continue giving him shit every few months about needing to hire more women.

Side note: I'm the only female attorney in an office with 9 male attorneys and a completely female support staff. Everything everywhere is absurd.

Jennifer@twitter

@C.SanDiego One of my parents' friends owns a civil engineering firm and his wife doesn't like hiring women because she says "female engineers just aren't as good". It made me really sad.

Jennifer@twitter

@C.SanDiego Ack also: number of women in law school has been decreasing in the past few years. Also, if your dad increased his scale to 50 years, maybe. Right now, even though there are increasing numbers of women in engineering schools, they drop out of the workforce much faster than men. I do not see engineering being female dominated anytime soon.

SarahP

This is awesome, but it means I'm going to have Peggy Seeger's "Gonna be an Engineer" stuck in my head all day.

hijabeng

Another lady engineer here. I often wear mismatched socks to work and have often contemplated wearing a tool belt to stash my business since functional pockets in women's clothing is a no go. Today, my socks are blue with navy polka dots. And I'm SO EXCITED about this toy.

fondue with cheddar

@hijabeng I love you.

Speaking of pockets, I'm trying to start dressing nicer (I haven't really succeeded yet), and I bought a couple dresses from eshakti.com. They both have pockets!

hijabeng

@fondue with cheddar =). Thanks for the heads up, I'll check out eshakti!

fondue with cheddar

@hijabeng They were recommended to me by another 'Pinner. :)

prefer not to say

Ok, but here's the real question: WHERE CAN I BUY THESE?? I have two nieces, right in the age range, and they are super-smart and they need these FOR CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR. Can I buy GoldieBlox that soon?

theotherginger

@prefer not to say I don't think so - I have a cousin-niece that I would love to get this for - both parents are engineers - but I think engineering and pink together would make this toy a huge hit for her!

paper bag princess

My sister only just told us she's pregnant....is it too early to start buying STEM toys? No? Good. I'm going to be an overzealous auntie.

KaraA

I am a woman engineer. There is talk of underrepresentation of women in science/engineering/math and efforts like these toys to fix that part, which I support, but what is not often discussed is that the track to a PhD in a technical field and many jobs in technical fields are very time demanding. It is very hard to be in one of these jobs and raise a family especially if you are a woman because with men in these jobs often the wife picks up the slack on the home front end. I don't know if that means many women choose not to have kids or delay kids until it's too late or drop out of the demanding jobs and in some cases the field. In my job it is very very hard to do it and have kids if you are the one in the family who has to pick the kids up at day care - you are expected to stay late at work when something comes up unexpectedly, or if you have to stay home with the sick kids - telecommuting is not allowed, or if you are a divorced single parent - if you are part of certain work you have to come in in the middle of the night. The women are usually the primary caregivers so it is easier for the men in these jobs because their wives do all that stuff and the household stuff. But for the women in the technical fields they ARE the wife doing all that stuff and a demanding job too. I have heard that when pursuing a career in academia (PhD in science field), the hours are so long and over so many years that by the time you have tenure it is too late to have kids (if you're a woman) and if you take time off for kids, well good luck getting tenure (there are things on the internet about it).

So it bugs me when "getting more women into engineering" is presented as the solution when getting women to be well represented in engineering etc. is only part of it - better work life balance so that women don't drop out of these fields when they start families is another part and the part that you don't hear very often. And of course there are women like Marissa Mayer out there making it look easy with her 2 week maternity leave though she has the money to have more than 1 nanny and most women in the technical fields don't have that.

Qreamlikethedrink

All of that is fine, you guys, but can we now talk about the HILARIOUS and CUTE names of the characters? I mean, Nacho the dog? Benjamin Cranklin the cat? Ruby Rails the new friend? This lady engineer and her team are GENIUSES, I'm telling ya!

gabitza

I simply love this kind of girls who become what they allways dreamed to be in life. Also.. love her cuz she's verry cute to :)read more

valentin

Amazing girl :X, i'm in love allready :) He puts a big smile on kinds face. Good for you Debbie! mobilier si marfa in Bucuresti

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