GoldieBlox’s Lindsey Shepard Discusses the Key to Girls in STEM

“More than pink, we want to think!” says GoldieBlox’s viral video.

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Todd Sierer recently met Lindsey Shepard, Rainmaker at GoldieBlox, at the USA Science and Engineering Festival. There they discussed the new product and its goals to bring more girls into STEM careers.

 

I know GoldieBlox is an amazing product, but tell me more about it.

"GoldieBlox is a book series and construction set combined, starring Goldie. She's our kid inventor who loves to build. And as girls read along they build what Goldie built using their toolkit."

"What we're hoping to do is, to get girls building. Just to get them familiar and comfortable with building concepts, and some basic engineering concepts. And we're really using the narrative aspect of our toy to get them engaged."

"So Goldie has this whole crew of friends: there's a dolphin, a bear, a sloth, and she has this crazy dog. Girls really fall in love with the characters. It really motivates them to get building.

 

What's the vision of the product? I know that it has this very noble intent. Tell me more about that.

"You know the problem, as we see it, is that there's this huge gender gap in STEM fields. Only 13% of engineers are women and that's a real problem."

"What we've noticed is that there's this real leaky pipeline going on. So girls tend to lose interest in math and sciences at around age 8. There's a lot of different reasons for that, which people suppose, but we think it has to do with the things they're exposed to before then."

"So if you take a walk down the toy aisle, Toys-r-us, and Target; you can really begin to see why they maybe aren't interested in this stuff. So it's all pink, princess, pony, and doll. And there's not a lot of stuff that feeds their brains."

 

You're exactly right. For the boys it is all building, there's tons of Lego and other building stuff. You go to the girl's aisle, the whole thing is pink.

"Its PINK!"

 

And there's no building. I'm not knocking the princess, but you're not giving people the chance, you're not giving girls the chance to build and construct.

"It's true. Our philosophy is that there's nothing wrong with princess. You know imagination and creativity is so important in anyone's childhood. So there's nothing wrong with princess. But we'd like princesses to build their castles too."

 

What kind of success have you seen so far? What's been the reaction?

(Laughing) "It's been crazy! I mean absolutely crazy. So we were a Kickstarter project about two years ago, and we had this really audacious goal of raising $150 thousand dollars. Which was just crazy!"

"I mean that's a consumer product, that's a toy. Everyone was saying that's very niche. We talked to people in the toy industry that said: 'Oh well, construction toys for girls don't sell. This isn't going to work. Nobody wants it...'"

"So we put up this Kickstarter project thinking we're going to be pounding the pavement for a month. You know begging and pleading with our grandparents and aunts and uncles to pitch in their five bucks. We ended up hitting our goal in four days, and went on to double it."

"Shortly after that Kickstarter project ended the video from it went viral on the Internet. And that's when it really took off. So that's when I quit my day job. Umm... actually a little bit before then and started with GoldieBlox full force."

 

A large part of our audience are Professional Engineers. Many of them are looking at side projects, they have this idea for a business. You got involved in a successful start-up. What was