Tuesday, February 4, 2014


This past weekend, we celebrated America's best (unofficial) national holiday...no, not Groundhog's Day! It was Super Bowl Sunday! That one Sunday of the year is an excuse to eat every unhealthy food known to humankind as we laze around all day and watch some of the top athletes in football compete for the sporting world's ultimate prize: a Super Bowl Championship. Of course, over the years, the event has become a sort of pageant, as even people who have no interest in sports tune in for this one game to see the musical performances, celebrities, and of course, the commercials.  Normally, I for one cannot stand commercials and in my house, my family calls me a "serial switcher" for constantly switching channels in order to avoid sitting through two minutes of brainwashing and subliminal messages.  However, during the Super Bowl, it is essentially sacrilegious to ignore the commercials.  Although some of these commercials are admittedly funny as well as poignant, many of these ads have become notorious for being incredibly sexist (i.e. www.GoDaddy.com).  Even though some might claim that this year's ads were less sexist than last year's, there was still some sexism (and of course racism, ageism, classism, etc.) sprinkled in throughout the night, both on TV and on social media (just look at the response to Coca Cola's ad).

That was why it was even that much more refreshing to see the GoldieBlox commercial.  GoldieBlox is a startup toy company based in Oakland, California founded by Debbie Sterling, a Stanford-educated engineer.  The company's goal is to make toys for future innovators while working to "disrupt the pink aisle" and prove that girls can build, too.  Since men still largely outnumber women in STEM fields (science, engineering, math and technology), GoldieBlox is seeking to level the playing field by keeping girls interested and excited about these fields while they are still young.

GoldieBlox won a competition and beat out 20,000 rival startups to win a free 30-second ad in the second half of the game thanks to a contest sponsored by Intuit.  It was a truly historic moment as Goldieblox was the first smalltime business to land an ad in the Super Bowl, where 30-second spots go for around $4 million.  The commercial featured a catchy tune as girls proudly used their pink toys (including kitchen sets, dollhouses, stuffed animals, princesses...) to make a rocket.  The ad worked to challenge societal norms, offset sexist ads, and empower young girls and women.

I for one can hardly recall playing with more than blocks when I was little, as my main toys were definitely the stereotypical girly toys.  However, if Goldieblox had been around when I was younger, would I have become more interested in STEM subjects?  Throughout my education, I always found math and science difficult, first because I didn't find it interesting, and then later on I became discouraged when I started to fall behind.  Would I really have been more interested had I owned GoldieBlox?  It seems like it is tough to give a definitive answer since the company is so new, but I think they could be on to something.  These toys are already starting to catch on as they are now being sold in Toys R Us and Target, and hopefully, they can start this toy-world trend of working to break the mold.

-Lindsey Skerker '14

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