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Meet the Toymaker Who Is Disrupting the Pink Aisle

We can all identify the girls’ and boys’ toy aisles from a mile away, simply by the color: one is blue, and the other is pink. Maybe that wouldn’t be a huge issue if the toys for girls didn’t tend to be so focused on beauty, while boys have plenty of options that encourage them to build, explore, and think about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

As an engineer and founder of the innovative toy company GoldieBlox, 2015 Woman of Distinction Debbie Sterling aims to disrupt the pink aisle and inspire a future generation of female engineers with toys that are fun but also build confidence and skills.

GoldieBlox toys show girls that they can be more than just pretty princesses by learning engineering concepts through books and construction sets that follow a narrative about Goldie, a girl inventor who solves problems by building simple machines.

Sterling was inspired to brainstorm ways to get girls interested in STEM after noticing the lack of women in her engineering classes at Stanford University. By gathering research and conducting her own, Sterling found that women must experience engineering at a young age in order to succeed in the field. Her research also showed that girls possess stellar verbal skills and learn a lot better when they are able to interact with stories. With this information under her belt, Sterling began prototyping and testing her ideas more and more until, at last, GoldieBlox was born.

In just three years, GoldieBlox has been hugely successful — it smashed numerous goals on its Kickstarter launch, made history by winning a Super Bowl ad, and is now sold in more than 6,000 retailers worldwide. The toys’ success has raised awareness about both the problematic pink aisle and about why women are so underrepresented in engineering. As the GoldieBlox leading lady, Sterling has worked with music stars to get her message across, been named a Time magazine Person of the Moment, and also earned a spot on Business Insider’s 30 Women Who Are Changing the World.

You can meet this remarkable woman at the 30th National Conference for College Women Student Leaders this May. Register before April 1 for a $50 discount!

This post was written by AAUW Educational Events Intern Imani Lewis.

By:    February 26, 2015