Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Viral Video Encourages Girls to Become Engineers


Who said girls want to dress in pink and play with dolls, especially when they could be building Rube Goldberg machines instead?
That is the message of a video that has gone viral since it was posted on YouTube this week — an ad for GoldieBlox, a start-up toy company that sells games and books to encourage girls to become engineers.
In the video, three girls are bored watching princesses in pink on TV. So they grab a tool kit, goggles and a hard hat and set to work building a Rube Goldberg machine that sends pink teacups and baby dolls flying through the house, using umbrellas, ladders and, of course, GoldieBlox toys.
It all happens to the tune of “Girls” by the Beastie Boys, a decidedly anti-feminist ballad that the ad’s creators rewrote.
The Beastie Boys sang, “Girls to do the dishes/Girls to clean up my room/Girls to do the laundry/Girls and in the bathroom/Girls, that’s all I really want is girls.”
One of the actresses in the ad sings: “Girls build a spaceship/Girls code the new app/Girls that grow up knowing/That they can engineer that/Girls, that’s all we really need is girls/To bring us up to speed it’s girls/Our opportunity is girls/Don’t underestimate girls.”
I thought back to my childhood with the princesses and the ponies and wondered why construction toys and math and science kits are for boys,” Debbie Sterling, founder and chief executive of GoldieBlox, said in an interview. “We wanted to create a cultural shift and close the gender gap and fill some of these jobs that are growing at the speed of light.”
She started the company two years ago, after graduating with a degree in product design from the mechanical engineering department at Stanford, where she was disappointed that there were not more women in her classes.
Women are vastly underrepresented as engineers at tech companies, largely because of a supply problem. In 2010, women earned just 18 percent of computer science degrees, down from 37 percent in 1985, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology. The problem, many analysts say, starts in childhood, when teachers and parents do not encourage girls to pursue engineering.

GoldieBlox is one of several efforts to change those percentages. The program Girls Who Code teaches girls software programming, and Sheryl Sandberg, the Facebook executive who advocates for women in business, often encourages parents to let their girls play video games so they get excited about computer science.
Brainstorming over Mexican food a few months ago, Ms. Sterling and the GoldieBlox team came up with an idea to make a video that made engineering seem cool to young people. They were inspired by the Rube Goldberg machine in an OK Go music video and the creator of that machine, Brett Doar, agreed to build one for the GoldieBlox ad.

This is a repost of an Article that appeared on the New York Times on November 20, 2013

1 comment:

  1. The video is going viral but some feminists are not supporting this advertisement nor the product being promoted. They believe the video is sending the wrong message to girls.
    -Digital Munch