GoldieBlox and Gender Equality in Engineering

This video is awesome:

Awesome Goldieblox ”Girls” Commercial

Watching this video took me right back to my childhood. Oh, the days of building forts and playing games! Then I started thinking about how protected I was from the complete gender bias in every element of children’s toys. Why? Because I grew up playing with my two brothers everyday, who are respectively two years older and 3 years younger than me. Since we didn’t have tons of extra money, we shared toys. So I grew up playing with teenage mutant ninja turtles (my Mom hated Barbies anyway), Gameboy (notice the boy), Mario on Playstation (notice another boy), Goldeneye and Sega Genesis. Sure, I had a few dolls too. I also didn’t have TV until I was around 11 (incidentally when we started playing Playstation), so we played a lot of analog games like Monopoly, and spent tons of time outside building cool things like snow forts. This protected me  somewhat from the gender bias in girl’s toys, but obviously most of the toys I was playing with were marketed specifically for boys.

Obviously GoldieBlox hasn’t moved away from marketing toys specifically to girls, which I still don’t agree with. As my entire childhood shows, both girls and boys often like the same toys – it’s just about making cool stuff. However, at least Goldieblox’s games are aimed at making kids smarter and more into science, and judging by the 8.5 million youtube views (the original video got taken down), everyone else likes this concept too.

One thing I want to mention here is that there are a lot of female engineers already. I hear the argument every day that ”we need more female engineers” because I work with a lot of high-tech companies as a gender equality and diversity consultant. First of all, the number of female engineers has risen dramatically. Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology’s 5-year civil engineering program gave out degrees to 30% women and 70% men in 2012. So don’t tell me there’s no women in engineering.

There are, however, some areas of engineering and computer science, specifically programming, that have suffered from low amounts of women for many years. I propose several solutions:

1.  Everyone needs to take responsibility for giving their kids/neieces/nephews/friends’ kids/grandkids, etc. toys that enrich their life and make them smart, not limit them according to their gender.

2. Schools starting from kindergarten all the way to college need to get better at ensuring that there’s not gender bias in teaching or recruiting and work actively to reduce gender segregation (this goes both for boys and girls). Schools have successfully worked to ensure equality in their computer science programs before, like Carnegie Mellon. Carnegie Mellon Increased % Women in Comp Science from 7% to 42%. It can be done!

3. Engineering and tech companies need to actively recruit for diverse groups in a number of ways, not just via networking. Look around you. If everyone else at your company looks like you, your diversity initiatives have failed. It’s time to think outside the box!

If you need help or tips, email me: alice.marshall@addgender.se

 

 

 

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Publicerad den 29 november, 2013 av Alice Marshall
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Alice Marshall
Gender Equality & Diversity Consultant
Alice Marshall is a gender equality consultant at Add Gender. She wrote her Master's thesis at Stockholm University about best practices for gender equality in the IT industry. She is the only gender equality consultant in Sweden specializing in IT. She is very interested in gender equality and diversity as a strategy to make businesses more profitable, innovative and fun to work for. Before completing her Master's degree, she worked for Ernst & Young and Harlem Village Academies in New York.

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  1. [...] PS. Kom även på Goldie Blox som ett bra exempel! document.write('') Tweet Publicerad den 10 december, 2013 av Pernilla Alexandersson Inga kommentarer Pernilla Alexandersson VD och grundare Pernilla har nära femton års erfarenhet inom jämställdhetsfrågan. Hon är diplomerad affärsinriktad projektledare via IHM Business School och har fil. kand i genusvetenskap. Pernilla är VD på Add Gender och expert på strategiskt jämställdhetsarbete. Detta innebär att hon stöttar företag i vilka val de bör göra i relation till sin affärsidé och jämställdhetsfrågan. [...]

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