“If we want more female engineers, we need to open their minds to engineering at a young age,” says GoldieBlox creator, Debbie Sterling.

Girl_Playing_with_Blocks_SmallBob the Builder. Jimmy Neutron. Lego Man. Sid the Science Kid. Handy Manny. The science-loving, tower-building cartoon heroes popular among kids today are all boys, or — I suppose, in the case of Lego Man — men.

Incidentally, so are about 90 percent of America’s engineers.

San Francisco-based entrepreneur Debbie Sterling wants to change that statistic. Sterling was trained as an engineer at Stanford, where she was one of 181 women in a program that graduated nearly 700 people in all. To even out the score, she decided to begin with an early intervention in a girl’s life, and she set her sights on the toy aisle. Girls, she says, begin demonstrating less interest in science, math, and engineering when they are as young as eight. “Take a walk through a toy store and you can begin to see why; the ‘blue aisle’ is filled with construction toys and chemistry sets, while the ‘pink aisle’ is filled with princesses and dolls,” read the press materials from her company. “If we want more female engineers, we need to open their minds to engineering at a young age.”

How could a toy engage girls in engineering? What would make it different from the “standard” (read: geared-toward-boys) Lego and Erector sets? Sterling spent more than a year researching these questions and, gradually, GoldieBlox — a female engineer character, Goldie, and a related construction toy — emerged.

At the center of Sterling’s creation are several strategies for getting girls to build: engage them with a story, challenge them to build with a problem-solving purpose, use materials that are warm or soft to the touch (no metal) and have shapes with curved edges, and presented in colors that American girls in the year 2012 tend to be attracted to.

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Source: Rebecca J. Rose | The Atlantic