She is brilliant, stylish, and lives by her own code. She is the best software engineer in town, and when she is not editing her school newspaper—or saving the world—she designs her own clothing using software she coded herself. She is the latest and greatest role model for young girls everywhere: meet the aptly-named Ruby Rails.
If you missed the reference, don’t worry. In fact, many of the mothers and daughters who take Ruby home are likely unfamiliar with the program, and that is precisely why inventor and CEO Debbie Sterling started GoldieBlox in 2013.
Frustrated by an underwhelming representation of women in engineering fields, Sterling set out to “disrupt the pink aisle” by creating science and construction toys especially for girls. Complete with a laptop and functioning build-it-yourself parachute, Ruby Rails is the latest in a collection of products from GoldieBlox designed to “level the playing field” by getting girls interested in science and engineering early on.
In addition to filling a vacuum created by ‘traditional’ boys’ construction toys like Legos and K’Nex, GoldieBlox is also focused on providing young girls with another much-needed resource: role models.
Citing a noticeable lack of female protagonists in contemporary entertainment, for example, GoldieBlox created this spectacular action hero montage that features Ruby and her friend Goldie Blox (mechanical engineer and company namesake) replacing the male heroes of classic cinematic moments.
Engaging girls through stories from fantastic as well as real-life role models is an important part of GoldieBlox mission. “We’re so glad to have organizations like Techbridge, Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code, and the Society of Women Engineers for their work in providing role models and support for women in STEM,” says Sterling, who thought engineering meant driving trains until she got to college.
While most of the girls playing with GoldieBlox might be too young for the summer camps and hack-a-thons these organizations organize, it’s all got to start somewhere. Sterling attributes much of her success to those invaluable early experiences with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). Her mission to ignite a similar passion for science in younger generations has even caught the attention of fellow game-changer, (and Skai Blue Media hero) Tiffany Pham, the Founder & CEO of Mogul, who featured Sterling as part of the global platform’s #IAmAMogul campaign for her work breaking down gender barriers.
Think about your own heroes growing up. Why you were drawn to them? What did they teach you? Now think about your daughters, nieces, younger cousins, family friends and others and whom they emulate. Perhaps it’s time we introduce some better role models to these future leaders. What do you think?