GoldieBlox helping to empower a generation of female engineers

Debbie Sterling is on a mission to build up girls by breaking down a few barriers.

Fed up with the lack of women in her engineering field (the latest studies from the National Science Foundation show that 11 percent of engineers of women), Sterling, a graduate of Stanford University, came up with an idea after coming across research that kids’ toys could have a huge impact on their career choices.

The San Francisco woman said she set her sights on building a construction toy for girls after visiting a toy store.

“My head literally started spinning and I was so disappointed that there weren’t things that would inspire girls to [use] their brains,” Sterling, 30, said. “The girl aisle was kind of about how to be pretty and I wanted to put something in there that girls can see that they too could find a passion in engineering and that they too could find these subjects fun.”

And so the idea for GoldieBlox, toys that encourage girls to not just play with dollhouses but build them, was born.

“In creating the GoldieBlox character, I wanted to make a character that girls could relate to,” Sterling said. “She’s feminine and she loves building.”

To fund the dream, to the tune of $150,000, Sterling made a plea, complete with a video, on Kickstarter. The money started flooding in.

“We reached our goal in four days,” she said, “and ended up almost doubling it by the end.”

GoldieBlox is now sold in about 500 independent stores in the United States and Canada, and even at Toys R Us. Sterling said her toys had been consistently in the Top 20 best-selling toys on Amazon.

“It is just amazing to see what these girls are kind of putting together,” Sterling said. “They start playing with GoldieBlox, they start building all kinds of things that none of us would have ever thought of.”

She said creating the toys had been fulfilling for her.

“You know, the best thing about starting this company – and I know that Goldieblox is just one tiny, tiny little step — [is] that I firmly believe that in my own lifetime I’m going to see a huge shift,” Sterling said. “I’m going to see an enormous shift of more girls entering these fields, inventing amazing things, with men.”