Engineering for Girls [Sex in the News]

If walking through the mall tells you anything, it’s that Christmas is on its way. For anyone with younger girls on their gift-list, they might have taken a wander through the all-pink-everything “Girls” toy section. Here you’ll find baby-dolls to practice being a mom, toy kitchens or toy cleaning supplies and lots of princess gear. And though you might find the pink version of Legos or other building toys, they’re usually less complicated or a little over-the-top girly.

Well Debbie Sterling, an engineer from Stanford University decided she’d had enough. Sure you can find toys encouraging girls to be princesses (which, Sonia Sotomayor reminds us is not a career), but where are the toys encouraging to break into a male-dominated industry such as engineering. So Sterling developed Goldie Blox, a building toy set that develops spatial skills and comes from a female¬†perspective. And rather than simply being a pink-version of a boys toy set, it’s built upon research that shows boys and girls learn differently. Girls learn by reading, and Sterling’s created a book (that will be a series) to accompany the blocks.

While Goldie Blox is just in production now and won’t be ready until the spring, we should be thinking about ways to encourage the next generation of girls to be anything they want. And what better time to do this than over Christmas. Whether you change all the pronouns in a male-centric video game, or sign your younger sister up for a course on code, I think it’s time to think outside the princess box.

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  1. Lisa says:

    As a female engineer, going to an technical university, I don't think this is necessary.
    Engineering is in it's core creativity and curiosity for how different designs (nature as well as machine) work.
    I see how we are 46% of students with math major are female, not to mention biology and chemistry, where the men seems to have disappeared.
    And sure most of the students from software, IT, electronics, physics and mechanical are male, but it is a process and we are getting there.
    I don't think there is need for specific pink bricks to play with, bricks and LEGO's are not gender specific, often it is more the parents that are labeling the gender to a toy.
    Question: If a boy would play with dolls and dress as a princess for halloween, should he?

  2. Mel says:

    If you have a younger sister, niece, kids you nanny for or volunteer for, etc. and want to introduce them to computer science, consider showing them Scratch. It's a programming language designed at MIT that's accessible to kids – instead of having to worry about writing code and making sure commas, brackets, etc. are in place, you just drag and drop blocks to create a program. I taught Scratch to elementary school kids one semester during college and they really enjoyed creating their own programs. They made video games, animated stories, quizzes, art, and more.
    And Scratch isn't just for kids! It's fun for adults to mess around with too!

  3. jodhpurs says:

    Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we're here for something else besides ourselves. ~Eric Sevareid

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