Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I *Am* A Girl with an Engineering Degree

Debbie Sterling, a woman who secured her own engineering degree at Stanford, thinks we live in a prejudiced world. Barely 1 in 10 engineers is female, and Ms. Sterling attributes this to our sexist marketing of toys.

She started her own company, GoldieBlox:

Though I am with her in loving the Rube Goldberg machine action spilling all over the house and yard (that was kinda awesome), is anyone else troubled by the ad?

Let me get this straight, is it written somewhere that girls HAVE to play with pastel colored toys? Isn't that supposition sexist in itself? What's the problem? They make legos. I played with them. I still do. Parents can't buy the regular ones in the store for girls because they're not pink? Am I understanding their grievance correctly?

Let's look at the lyrics again...

[on TV: Hey pretty girl, hey pretty girl, livin' in a pretty world... Hey pretty girl...]

♫GIRLS  [She sings this with an awful lot of anger, don't ya think?]

You think we know what we want GIRLS
Pink and pretty it's GIRLS
Just like the 50's it's GIRLS [But wait, what color are the GoldieBlox they're selling? Oh yeah. Pastels. Pink. Huh???]

You like to buy us pink TOYS
And everything else is for BOYS [Why now, are other toys *for* boys??? If they didn't ALLOW girls to play with rockets and trucks, that'd be one thing. But I'm not aware of any laws forbidding the sale of any color or type of toys for girls.]

And you could also buy us dolls
And we'll grow up like them...FALSE! [Grow up like the doll? Ummm? Aren't dolls babies?]
It's time to CHANGE
We deserve to see a RANGE
'Cause all our toys look just the SAME [So the solution is making MORE pink toys for girls??]
And we would like to use our BRAINS [I just don't understand what is holding them back..?]
WE'RE ALL MORE THAN PRINCESS MAIDS. [Now I understand that marketing for girls often does them a disservice by suggesting that being pretty is all that matters. I agree with the makers of this ad that this is wrong. However, I would hope that a girl's parents are teaching her that she is wonderful, smart, beautiful and talented, and that none of those qualities need be mutually exclusive. A girl *should* be treated with respect like a princess. She *should* behave with dignity like a princess. That doesn't mean she need wear ruffles and bows all the time. I have never understood why trying to be feminine is always attacked as a weakness.]

GIRLS to build the spaceship
GIRLS to code the new app
GIRLS to grow up knowing that they can engineer that [I think that's true!]
GIRLS that's all we really need is GIRLS [Well, geez, I'd have to disagree with that one. I think we need boys, too]
to bring us up to speed is GIRLS
our opportunity is GIRLS
Don't underestimate GIRLS

I can't imagine what would happen if someone were to write this ad exchanging the word "GIRLS" for "BOYS". They'd be burned at the stake.

What do *you* think of the ad?


  1. Fail - BOYS would have set fire to or blown something up in that sequence! Although, my best opportunities were girls...once upon a time.

    1. Once upon a time?

      Why once upon a time?

    2. Because I married my last best opportunity, and have no need for another!

  2. I think we analyze stuff too much.

    If they weren't pink and pastel they'd just be the same as the old stuff and nobody would buy them. Hypocrisy in advertising aside, she is creating a market for her stuff. As far as not needing boys, isn't that the attitude of most pre-12 year old girls anyway? Unless they are dressing up their five year old brother in a dress to boost the attendance numbers for their tea party.