Pink — a color we typically associate with tutus, ballerina shoes and tiaras for little girls — actually used to be what many European countries used to dress boys in. Blue, on the other hand, was the dominant hue for girls.
Mind blown, right? Makes you question and rethink the origins of age-old stereotypes that many of us have just come to assume is the norm.
Last week a YouTube video by construction toy company GoldieBlox went viral, racking up 8 million-plus views and counting, the contents of which attempt to inspire the next generation of female engineers and turn a well-propagated stereotype on its head.
Set to a reconstructed version of the 1987 Beastie Boys’ hit song “Girls,” the GoldieBlox video features three little girls making a Rube Goldberg machine out of princess toys. (Side note: With some copyright infringement issues plaguing it, it remains to be seen how long the video will be available for viewing online.) So, if you haven’t already, go ahead and take a look.
There was also this other GoldieBlox video from back in July of a group of uninspired little girls in pink princess outfits showing the world that each of them is “more than just a princess” (their words, not mine).
Women in STEM: A Sign of Changes to Come?
GoldieBlox was founded by Stanford engineer Debbie Sterling, who wanted to make engineering cool – and friendlier toward young females who may otherwise be intimidated to enter a field that’s often thought to show hostility toward them.
In fact, according to a Washington Post article, Sterling has said: “Some of the issues are once they graduate with an engineering degree, women aren’t taking engineering jobs [or are leaving their positions because of the male-oriented culture.] … We have to work at fixing all the leaks in the pipeline.”
So why are there fewer women in these fields than we’d like to see? The lack of female role models and mentors for young girls to look up to in a male-dominated working environment is a common reason cited.
The lack of women in STEM professions is no surprise. Here are a few statistics from a June 2012 Forbes article: Only 1 in 7 women in engineering is female, according to a 2011 report by the U.S. Department of Commerce. And women hold only 27 percent of all computer science jobs.
The lack of women in STEM professions is staggering, and combating stereotypes requires more than just education initiatives — it requires a change of mind.
I was at the Close It Summit earlier this month, where Eric Spiegel, CEO of Siemens USA, talked candidly about the stereotypes and stigmas that still exist, discouraging young women from entering STEM fields, and how we must all be more proactive in changing it.
In fact, Spiegel says it needs to start with parents. “Manufacturing has a branding problem; we must convince parents to put their kids on this track,” he said.
So naturally when I came across the GoldieBlox video, I couldn’t help but think we as a society are slowly but surely taking a step in the right direction.
What do YOU think of these videos and the message GoldieBlox is trying to promote? How do you think we need to encourage more girls to get into STEM professions? Write a comment below or drop us a tweet or Facebook post.
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