Goldieblox – Helping to Put A Dent on The STEM Deficit

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These are the sad facts many of us are familiar with. According to The World Economic Forum1:

  • The United States ranks 52nd in the quality of science, technology engineering and math (STEM) education, and 5th (and declining) in overall global competitiveness.
  • The United States ranks 27th in developed nations in the proportion of college students receiving undergraduate degrees in science or engineering.
  • There are more foreign students studying in U.S. graduate schools than the number of U.S. students and over 2/3 of the engineers who receive Ph.D.’s from United States universities are not United States citizens

The solution to the United States declining standards of STEM education is multi-faceted including making changes in the Common Core, teaching foundational STEM principals starting in kindergarten as well as providing teachers the STEM backgrounds they may need in order to teach these subjects. While that’s a lot to overcome, there is something each of us can do today in our own home: address the gender gap in these fields.

Women make up only 24% of the United States workforce in STEM fields and only 14% in engineering.

Both myself as a parent of two daughters (and three sons), along with the young women of the Yoursphere team think the issue is socially influenced. Girls are taught from a young age that math and science is for boys and they don’t have to be explicitly told that to think so. Girls know from the characters they see on TV and the pink toys they’re given to play with that LEGOs and trucks are for boys and dolls and dresses are for girls. After all, it’s rare to come across pink LEGOs and trucks.

Dexter and Dee Dee
Dexter and Dee Dee from Dexter’s Lab

But that’s effectively what Goldieblox sets out to do. With the goal in mind of teaching girls that they can be engineers too, Debbie Sterling created a toy that teaches basic principles of engineering in pastel colors. We’re glad to learn the products have taken off.

Seeing girls play with the toys, seeing girls on the packaging lets girls know that it’s OK for them to want these toys. As it is, you can usually tell at a glance if a toy is marketed towards boys or girls and kids learn the blue-pink-color-code pretty early on. Hopefully, more toys like Goldieblox will come on the market that reach across gender lines to teach all kids that their gender doesn’t have to dictate who they’ll grow up to be. Right, Riley?

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