Thursday, November 21, 2013

I’m not in love with the GoldieBlox commercial that’s making the rounds on Facespace. (You can watch it here.)

In my overblown imagination, I’m pretty sure that admitting that, in print, on the internet is going to cause some sort of epic fallout akin to Mitt Romney’s notebooks full of women. Maybe I have to turn in my feminist card or something…but, uh. Yeah. This video makes me squirm.

Not because I don’t think girls can be engineers. Of course they can. In fact, it sort of baffles me that we are even having that conversation right now in 2013, but clearly…yes. It’s a needed discussion. There are still environmental and social barriers that continue to block women’s’ participation and progress in STEM. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) A quick Google search led me to a Forbes article from 2012 that gives some depressing facts:

  • Only one in seven engineers is female
  • Women have seen no employment growth in STEM jobs since 2000
  • Women hold only 27% of all computer science jobs
  • Less than 20% of bachelor’s degrees in computer science go to women, even though 60% of bachelor’s degrees are earned by women.

Then we get into all the reasons why…everything from a lack of female role models in STEM fields to girls being steered toward the “softer” more “feminine” humanities as young as grade school.

Yes! Preach! Truth! I am 100% on board.

And I am also in agreement that toys made specifically for girls aren’t helping steer women toward science and engineering. (Although I am positive that Barbie has been both an engineer and a scientist, as well as an astronaut, a math teacher, a chemist, and a doctor.) You can even argue that girls aren’t limited to the pink aisle. Certainly in my one-girl/one-boy home toys aren’t played with along gender specific lines. However, I am not so naive to think that if I took Sweet Pea to a toy store and told her to pick out anything she wanted, that she would run to the Legos and Erector Sets. I think she would look for the sea of pink just to identify where she should start shopping.

Which, clearly, was the catalyst that spurred GoldieBlox CEO Debbie Sterling to invent this very cool toy. Kudos to her.

Here’s what bugs me. As a mom. As a marketer. And as a super girly girl. Why do we have to dis on the tea sets and the princesses along the way? Why can’t girls be GIRLY and GEEKY? Aren’t we setting girls up for the exact same failure by stereotype when we send the message that you're either a girl who loves dolls and fairy wings OR a girl who loves science and building stuff? Why can’t you love both? How come you can’t you wear your gold glittery heels and pink fluffy boa to the tea party where you discuss building your sparkly rocket ship to Mars?

And what if you have zero interest or desire to play with this toy? What if, like Sweet Pea, your dream is to be a fashion designer and the top things on your Christmas list are Fashion Plates and a sewing machine? Does this commercial imply that she’s silly and brainless because her passions lie with hemlines and pleats? Or that this toy would never interest her because those things do?

I’m probably overthinking this. I do that. I’m just seeing all the comments on Facespace about this video and it hurts my heart. Once again, we are pitting women against women in this weird competition for…for what? I’m better than you because I don’t play like a girl? What does that even mean?

I do everything from putting on eyeliner to gutting fish like a girl because I AM a girl. I never thought of those things as being mutually exclusive.

I like this video on the GoldieBlox website much better. Girlie girls getting their invent on. That I can relate to. 

~ Princess Clover

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