For decades, we have collectively wrung our hands about how to get women (as well as minorities and low-income students) interested in science and math. In the late 1990s, when I was first starting to work in the education space, I remember the controversy over a new Barbie doll that proclaimed “math is hard,” a sentiment that many felt would set progress back another generation.
In 2008 and 2009, I was fortunate enough to help lead the Pennsylvania STEM Initiative. More than a decade later, one of our major charges was how to better engage women (both K-12 and higher ed) in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics areas. We were always looking for that one big idea that would completely change the way folks thought about STEM and STEM skills. But it was never discovered.
And now that I am a father, I look at my daughter, a precocious first grader, and wonder what I can do to make sure she gets the math and science background that virtually all students will need to succeed once she graduates from college and prepares to take on the world.
So I was particularly tickled to see a piece on Slate today that features a new commercial for a product from a company called GoldieBlox. Typically, I don’t like to write about companies and their products. But the commercial offered up by GoldieBlox requires me to break my own rules and sing the praises of this terrific piece of edu-marketing.
The goal is simple (I assume). GoldieBlox is looking to sell a tinkertoy/connex-like product to parents of young girls. But how the did it is far from simple. GoldieBlox made engineering cool why empowering women. Seeing the different pieces and how they work was fun to watch, even with the computer’s sound off.
But what really made my day was the soundtrack. The company took The Beastie Boys’ “Girls” song (as a child of the 1980s, Eduflack was particularly proud of that) and rewrote it as a power anthem for girls’ ingenuity and the necessary breaking of the pink princess stereotypes.
Check out the commercial. You can find it here on YouTube. And kudos to GoldieBlox for refusing to buy into the stereotypes and making a meaningful contribution on how to make STEM cool.