Girly Engineering

Recently I came across this video. It is for a toy called Goldie Blocks, which is marketed as “engineering toys for girls”. The video is quite clever it shows these two girls taking all their princess and ‘girly’ toys and creating a gigantic Rube Goldberg style contraption that takes over the whole house. The set of toys are supposed to be these contraption building kits where you set up a bunch of wheels and link them with gears and belts, and their shtick is that toys marketed for boys are often much funner than those marketed for girls and that toys marketed for girls assume girls aren’t interested in science and engineering type things. So far so good. However when I looked at their site I was totally taken aback that the whole design, it is totally a girly toy. From the purple and pink colors, rounded edges, cutesy fonts and all the little cutesy animals thrown in. And the toy, in all honesty looks kind of, well, lame. It’s basically pink Tinkertoys with a belt that can connect the wheels. My daughter would get bored in about 30 seconds. If they go through the trouble of making a point of encouraging girls to think about engineering and science why come up with this frilly piece of crap? It’s like saying, “girls, it’s ok if you play with boy toys, but only with these dumbed down versions with pretty purple colors”. Why gender code the toys at all? I mean my daughter is perfectly happy playing with standard Lego sets, Snap Circuits and Minecraft. All cool toys and games with huge engineering potential that are not gender coded and that both boys and girls could enjoy. What do you think? Do you think these Goldie Blox undermine their own message?

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4 Responses to Girly Engineering

  1. Laura says:

    Tina Ziemek who did some research on women and videogame cognition has a nice analysis as to why Goldie Blox is more hype than real stuff. It goes along the same lines that you are making a toy exclusive and gendered when you really shouldn’t have to:

    • namnezia says:

      Wow, that is indeed an in-depth review! I didn’t quite realize there had been such hype over this toy, but it doesn’t take much to figure out that it’s just a marketing scheme and that most parents with kids 5-9 will immediately realize most kids will be bored with this toy pretty quickly. It gives the impression of being open ended, but from what I can see it really isn’t.

  2. BugDoc says:

    Similarly, I often wonder why tools are made in regular and in pink. I was walking through Lowe’s (like Home Depot) and saw a Christmas special on a whole (adult) tool set with pink handles in a nice pink toolbox. Because why?

    I think somewhere there is some psych study that says you have to market to your audience and the marketing department is totally convinced that girls will only buy girly stuff.

  3. Hermitage says:

    I also, have been thoroughly unimpressed by the actual functionality of the toy. But then I figure this may be as close to legos some girls may get, if they come from a family that provides exclusively Barbie dolls and kitchen sets. I don’t think this toy was meant for families who already think of legos/kinect/etc as being nongendered.

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