You might have seen this video going around:
This is an ad for Goldieblox**, an engineering toy marketed to girls about ages 6-9 that launched via a kickstarter campaign a few years ago. This video has been going around our twitter and FB feeds like wildfire, mostly with positive responses. I think it’s adorable (and Gail is now reliving her youth singing everything from “license to ill”).
But I’ve also seen complaints about how they are marketing this toy. Why is it so pink? Isn’t making it pink just buying into the whole “girls can only have pink” message that something like this toy should work against?***
If you’d shown me this toy before I had kids, I would have said exactly the same thing.
But then we got Leigh, our now 7 y.o. daughter.
She has broad interests and she lives in a family where science, engineering and math are in the air. Gail is a mathematician. I am a neuroscientist.
She is also very girl-aligned. Leigh doesn’t just identify as being a girl. She revels in being a girl. She also looks to the world, both inside and outside of our family, for cues about what is “for her” and color is one of those cues. She’ll play with plenty of stuff that isn’t clearly designated as “for girls” but even so, she does process color and decoration as a way for her to be included.
I see the color and story in goldieblox as an invitation. For girls who are strongly girl-aligned in a manner similar to my daughter, this matters. It’s a way to say “this is for you,” when so much of what else is out there is coded to say “this isn’t for you.” I’m glad Goldieblox is marketed in this way. I think it will help our daughter engage. She’s getting a set for Chanukah. Her brother is getting one, too.
I grew up perceived as a gender non-conforming girl. I probably wouldn’t have touched goldieblox with a 10 foot pole. But I didn’t need goldieblox because there were plenty of non-girl-coded building toys that were exactly what I wanted. I can’t yet speak to the quality of the toy itself. I’m sure Gail and I will have plenty of thoughts on whether it is pedagogically sound once we have them in hand. But if we have complaints, they won’t be about whether it’s pink or purple.
**This post gets a little closer to product endorsement than usual around here. We didn’t get kickbacks of any sort for this post, we honestly don’t even know if we like this toy yet. We never do anything like give-a-ways or sponsored posts. We’re scientists. We think this conversation is important. So we’re participating.
*** Another complaint that has been lodged is the lack of racial diversity in the characters for the initial offering. The main character is yet another blond white sort of disney-fied looking girl, and in fact, the whole line is named after blond-ness (since it’s a spin off goldilocks). That’s definitely a big problem. But we’re still going to give them a shot, and we’re glad to see that in the second story, the main character is African American, and that the video itself is inclusive.