Ask engineers about their favorite toys growing up, and chances are, LEGOs will be mentioned. Often, they’ll be discussed with great intensity and detail, as in, “The best Christmas ever was in 1988, when I turned my entire bedroom into a LEGO City.” There is something about LEGOs that really takes a hold of kids and sparks their interest in building things — giving them the bug for engineering that can often carry on into their adult lives.
The fact is, though, that toys like LEGOs have traditionally been marketed to boys more than girls. And as it turns out, some 90 percent of people who are employed as engineers today are men. Whether those two facts are related is hard to know, but either way, the dearth of women in engineering is seen by many as a real problem.
And it’s a problem that GoldieBlox founder Debra Sterling has set out to help solve. Sterling, who has an engineering degree from Stanford, never grew up playing with LEGOs — and she didn’t discover her own passion for building things until she was a senior in high school. She’s developed GoldieBlox, she says, to give girls today the kind of toy that she wishes she had when she was growing up; to make something that would have helped ignite her own interest in engineering at a much earlier age.
GoldieBlox launched to the public via a new Kickstarter fundraising drive just this morning, and the response has been enthusiastic to say the least: As I’m writing this, $32,000 has been pledged to the project, which is looking to raise a total of $150,000 to put toward the first larger scale production run of the toys.
Sterling, who is the only full-time person working on GoldieBlox along with a circle of contractors, is certainly up against very big competitors when it comes to the toy and gaming industries. But it’s clear from the Kickstarter activity that there are a lot of people out there rooting for the GoldieBlox vision to succeed.
So it was great to have Sterling stop by TechCrunch TV today to give us a hands-on look at what she’s built. Watch the video embedded above to hear about how girls respond differently to toys than boys do, see the GoldieBlox product in action, hear about what’s on the horizon for the company, and more.