Is GoldieBlox Just Another Case of Pink-Washed Marketing to Girls?

BlogHer Original Post

The GoldieBlox YouTube video featuring three girls building a Rube Goldberg machine has gone viral -- but not without criticism. Yes, the clip shows the trio putting their girlie teapots and doll houses to use as parts in an engineering project (set to a kid-rendition of the Beastie Boys' old tune Girls) But, the video is still a commercial, and beyond the catchy two-minute clip, people are starting to question what GoldieBlox is selling.

BlogHer editor Melissa Ford is a big supporter of girls in STEM, but she says even with its good intentions, GoldieBlox is still trying to sell something to girls by telling them this is something they should like -- because they are female. The GoldieBlox site shows two toys currently for sale -- a spinning machine and a parade float. Designed by Stanford engineer Debbie Sterling, these kits tie into books whose stories are designed to get girls' interested in solving problems.

Mel explains on her blog Stirrup Queens why she's not going to buy her daughter GoldieBlox toys:

 "I don’t want the ChickieNob (or myself) to get sucked into clever marketing.  I don’t want her to have a knee-jerk, girl power reaction.  I don’t want her to buy something just because the company is telling her that girls can do anything!  They can, by the way.  But the point is that it’s too easy to get sucked into the message and miss whether or not it’s actually a good toy.  I have no clue if it’s a good toy, and I suspect that a lot of people who were drawn into the video also have no clue if it’s a good toy insofar as quality and value.  But until I know that, I really don’t want to buy my kid something just because they have made a catchy, viral YouTube video."

How do you feel about marketing STEM toys to girls? Is a little dose of fairy dust a small trade-off for getting girls interested in engineering? Or would you rather your daughters stick with toys out there that encourage creativity and spatial development that don't come with any pink strings attached?

News and Politics Editor Grace Hwang Lynch blogs about raising an Asian mixed-race family at HapaMama.

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