A new company, Goldie Blox, is taking the internet by storm with its new ad campaign marketing their STEM products to girls. With a disproportionately low number of women in STEM fields (making up only 11%), the campaign, with its girl power attitude and video set to Beastie Boys music seems applaudable….on the surface. I heard about the ad campaign from several friends who were claiming the product was a must have for anyone with daughters. I beg to disagree.
I set out to watch the video, excited about the prospect of a campaign to promote more women in STEM fields. As a woman, as a scientist, as a feminist, as a mother, this was something I could get behind. As I watched the ad, my excitement quickly faded and was replaced with, I will just say it, disgust. The ad was nothing more than a well done marketing campaign which managed not to fight stereotypes, but reinforce them.
Let’s look at some of the key points:
Finally! STEM kits for girls! All of the previous products on the market (there are a lot; we own quite a few of them), shouldn’t be played with by girls (heavy sarcasm). Does Goldie Blox believe they have managed to produce the one STEM product that girls can play with, discounting the fact that girls, and boys, can play with anything regardless of color? It isn’t the color of STEM kits that is limiting girls. It is the attitude from society, from consumers, and from….marketers who target ad campaigns for gender specificity.
“You think you know what we want” screams the ad campaign. How could marketers possibly know what girls want? Just wait. The marketers at Goldie Blox want to tell girls what they want…or more importantly, the people spending money on these girls – those important people in a girl’s life who generally hold the most influence over them.
Pink and Pretty is out. I’ll admit, I have never been a fan of the pink and pretty campaign set out by society to limit girls and women. That doesn’t mean that pink and purple, or even pretty, are evil. Telling girls that they shouldn’t like something is just as debilitating as telling them they should like something. It is even possible for a girl to like math, science and pink. Or, on the flip side, for a boy to like pink and purple (which is even less acceptable than a woman in a STEM field).
Setting Girls up for the Future. Goldie Blox claims their goal is to get every girl building and that they are going to “level the playing field.” They then go on to explain that because girls have strong verbal skills, it is necessary to go about getting them interested in math in science in a different way. This leaves me wanting to hit my head against a wall, one which I am fully capable of designing and building myself and then writing about, thank you very much. The company seems to really believe that girls and women are at a disadvantage in the STEM world because they think differently, and therefore lose interest quickly. Despite admitting that “for over a hundred years [building toys have] been considered boys’ toys.” I really don’t understand how they can miss the point. It isn’t that girls aren’t capable of thinking in terms of math and science without special help. It isn’t that colors of products are not appealing. It is the societal presuure on girls to only do what others tell them.
Goldie Blox is selling you something, and it is more than their pastel colored toys (did anyone else catch that after their spiel about girls not liking pink, they sell products that are pastel with a large percentage of pink and lavender?). Goldie Blox is selling consumers pseudo-feminism in the guise of marketing.
I have one daughter who loves pink, nail polish, and dress-up (but also has a growing interest in math) and another one who dislikes all those things and wants to sing and dance and be a prince instead of a princess. She doesn’t really need any specially designed toys. She just needs people to accept her and her preferences and not assume things about her. We had to ask the dentist, for instance, to please trade her free princess toothbrush for a Monsters Inc one. So, while I’m sure there are girls who would love GoldieBlox and I’m cool with that, I get what you mean. I don’t want my kids to feel limited to gender-specific toys.
Not to mention they hired a Disney artist for the character designs, which further perpetuates the female stereotype with large dough like eyes, pastel colored clothing and perfect hair. I do think that the initial intent was there, but it was badly executed with no marketing consultation. Or maybe you are right, it was cleverly dis guisesed to reach the largest market share of American parents, the same group who would by Lego friends.
I totally get your points. My husband showed me the campaign, loving it, and my instinct was to criticize. BUT, I don’t think the idea is complete crap. I tested advanced as a kid and was in our school district’s Talented and Gifted program. Each week I would miss my normal class to take a bus to another grade school for more advanced learning. I loved parts of it but can distinctly remember trying to skip out on the technology lesson. I just wasn’t interested in measuring or building gadgets. Maybe if there was something more visually appealing it would have piqued my interest. And then maybe that would have been a stepping-stone into more advanced, non-gendered sets.
My son is 3 and got some Hot Wheels for his birthday recently. They are so fun and it made me mad that I never had toys like that growing up. I hate the pink shit but if that’s what it takes to get better toys into girls’ hands, it’s a start.
It isn’t so much the idea, which seems to have been well-meaning, as the implementations and teh advertising campaign that faily, in my opinion.
The idea is completely crap. While my daughter like playing with princess and pink stuff, that does not stop her from liking erector sets and hot wheels. To empower girls in STEM fields the goal should be breaking the negative stereotyping, not reinforcing it it by slapping a coat of pink on everything and call it empowerment.
Money grab in the name of empowerment maybe?