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GoldieBlox founder Debbie Sterling speaks out about toys and sexism

GoldieBlox founder Debbie Sterling

“When I came up with the idea of GoldieBlox… people in the toy industry told me I was crazy.” – GoldieBlox founder Debbie Sterling.

Last month, I reviewed a new type of toy – construction sets aimed at sparking an interest in engineering within young girls.

The company who makes them, GoldieBlox, was set up by Debbie Sterling. She’s an engineer, but became disillusioned by the lack of women working in this field. The GoldieBlox brand wants to turn this around.

It’s certainly an exciting new start-up. GoldieBlox came into existence thanks to a successful KickStarter campaign and earlier this year made history as the first small business to have a commercial aired during the Super Bowl. That’s no mean feat.

I was fortunate to catch up with Debbie when she came over to the UK towards the end of last month. We talked about GoldieBlox (naturally) and the problems she encountered when she first approached the toy industry with her idea.

They said ‘girls like dolls, boys like building – you can’t fight nature’.

GoldieBlox founder Debbie Sterling

We also chatted about the wider issue of women in engineering, the importance of female empowerment and how she hopes GoldieBlox will help “shake things up”.

You can watch Debbie’s interview with me here:

I could easily have talked to her about so much more, but unfortunately we ran out of time.

Debbie certainly raises some interesting points and I agree with her when she talks about inadvertently becoming a role model herself. She’s certainly showing young girls that your dreams can succeed if you work hard and believe in yourself.

Personally, I can’t wait to see what GoldieBlox does next. Olivia loves the construction sets and continues to play with them most days. She’s starting to experiment now and tries to design and build her own creations. I can’t wait to see where this takes her.

18 Comments

  1. It really annoys me when people start saying boys can’t play with dolls or kitchens, I mean honestly, really? Bit like saying your husband can’t make a cup of tea, which in my case is true 😉 x

  2. I really like the look of the goldiebox sets, but I would rather have a world where toys weren’t aimed at one sex or the other. My daughter played with lego as much as my sons do!

  3. My boys both had dolls prams and my girls love playing with lego and toy soldiers. I don’t think toys should be aimed at a particular gender.

    1. In an ideal world you are absolutely right. It’s such a shame that toys are categorised into gender: I’ve had my three-year-old son watch a TV advert for a doll and say he can’t play with it because it’s for girls and my five-year-old daughter say that cars are for boys. We need these perceptions eradicated!

  4. THANK YOU for this interview! I hadn’t come across Goldieblox before, and I was so excited to watch the video. I know that putting a gender split in toy marketing isn’t great, but in the case of science and engineering, so many toys are overtly or tacitly aimed at boys, that something needs to be done to redress the balance. I’m all for positive discrimination!

  5. Thanks for sharing! I can’ tat and how the toy industry pushes the whole pink for girls angle. My son likes playing with both dolls and cars. I’m looking forward to hearing more. X

    1. I know! But good on her for challenging perceptions. I still can’t believe the reaction she got from the toy industry to her idea – so out-of-date.

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