@debbieblox Disrupting the Pink Aisle
Culture, Technology

Toys R’ Us and the Power of Pink—or Purple—“when I feel like it”.

In 2006 I wrote a paper about gender in toys, “Toys R Us—Engendering Children Are Us” for my UW Sociology of Family course.

Now it’s 2014 and we’re demolishing gender stereotypes and disrupting the pink aisle…

Sterling realized she was one of the only female engineering majors at Stanford University.

The Story of GoldieBlox | Cassie Jaye from Focus Forward Films on Vimeo.

“When Debbie Sterling set out to create GoldieBlox engineering toys for girls, she was hoping to sell much more than a product. She was hoping to inspire a movement that could eventually change the gender ratio in the engineering industry,” reports  from the Dallas Business Journal.


So while I was out there a little disillusioned with my experience as “woman in tech” and dreaming of virtual toy boxes to collect the world’s toy’s to share, thinking of my Tonka truck toys and The Muppets and Jimmy Wales, somewhere out there Debbie was “obsessed with this idea” … adding that she went to Home Depot and picked up random supplies to start building her first prototype.

“I was thinking of my childhood, trying to create the toy I wish I had as a little girl.”—@debbieblox

According to GoldieBlox, Debbie spent a year researching gender differences to develop a construction toy that went deeper than just “making it pink” to appeal to girls. She read countless articles on the female brain, cognitive development and children’s play patterns. She interviewed parents, educators, neuroscientists and STEM experts. Most importantly, she played with hundreds of kids. Her big “aha”? Girls have strong verbal skills. They love stories and characters. They aren’t as interested in building for the sake of building; they want to know why.

Through her research, Debbie discovered that girls had much stronger verbal skills and a higher attraction to reading. So she developed her line of toys to strategically attract little girls but also allow them to build.

Debbie launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2012, aiming to raise $150,000. She met her goal in four days and almost doubled it by the end of the campaign. And she landed a deal with Toys “R” Us, which offered to carry her products in store. How cool is that?

I’d love to give Debbie Sterling@debbieblox—a hug!

And for the record, I’ve always been a Toys R’ Us kid.

Related: Check out this 15 year old boy’s response to Emma Watson’s speech on gender equality.


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