Written by Anna Lemos- Anna is a creative content editor and strategist at Quick Formations, AKA Quick- an online Ltd. Company registration and formation service. Originally a designer, Anna has worked with various startups and SMEs creating graphics, social media campaigns and brand identities to catapult them into the market. Here, she shares with us 3 innovative startups that are breaking gender stereotypes through the work that they do.
From an early age, we manage to box ourselves into gender stereotypes. If we break the norm, we might not fit in, if we don’t we slice our opportunities in half. If you’re not entirely sure what I’m talking about, visit a toy store. Both the pink and blue aisles are restraining children’s self-expression. Why can’t a girl play with an action figure and a boy enjoy a cooking set? Heck, it’s even divided as far as colour association. That’s where these 3 gender-stereotype-busting startups come in.
Why these 3? GoldieBlox, Jessie and Jack, and BuddingSTEM have come in with a mission to let children believe in their capabilities and be comfortable with their tastes.
Founded by Debbie Sterling, GoldieBlox is a construction kit for girls. As a Stanford-trained engineer herself, she realised that engineering is a male-dominated industry, but she couldn’t understand why girls weren’t interested in the subject. After all, it gives you the skills to create just about anything.
After thorough research, she discovered it was to do primarily with the toys that children play with. Her goal was to disrupt the pink aisle and get girls interested in problem-solving and creating.
With the ingenious touch of a book, GoldieBlox is becoming more and more popular. Stories, identifiable characters and hands-on playing will hopefully be the perfect recipe for the GoldieBlox generation of girls to jump into the engineering world.
My favourite aspect of this toy is the characters. Goldie Blox likes to solve problems and she doesn’t always get it right. The idea is that with every mistake she learns and with the help of her friends (and pets) they will eventually manage to build something functional together. Her friends include a Ruby the software engineer, Val the techie and Li the physics guy (yes, they’ve got a male character too!).
What is interesting about this toy is that boys enjoy playing with it too. Hopefully, it will continue to blur the boundaries of our societies gender divide.
Here is Debbie Sterling’s inspirational talk at TEDx.
Jessy and Jack is a company that designs gender neutral clothes for kids. They use vibrant colours and fun motifs to create children and babies’ clothing. These garments are all unisex and therefore bridge the separation of ‘boy’s stuff’ and ‘girl’s stuff’. If a boy wants a pink t-shirt or a girl wants a robot jumper, they can buy it from Jessy and Jack without the ‘embarrassment’ of having to shop in the opposite gender’s department.
Giving children the opportunity to choose colours and motifs they like regardless of gender is a great step forward in the clothing industry.
BuddingSTEM is a clothesline for girls with interests in science and technology started by two mothers; Jennifer Muhm and Malorie Catchpole. When their daughters wanted things they could only find in the boy’s section, they decided to make a stand. Creating their own designs, they launched a Kickstarter campaign to get their tech inspired clothes on the market.
What I believe is particularly great about this startup is that it wasn’t a question of getting more ‘masculine’ clothes for girls on the market, but rather, letting young girls wear things they were comfortable and feel ‘feminine’ in. Just because a girl wants to wear a dress, doesn’t mean she won’t have aspirations of becoming an astronaut.
Changing the images and perspectives around young girls will give them an opportunity to nurture their interests and, most importantly, realise that what they enjoy isn’t a boy’s thing, but a kid’s thing.
Check out their Kickstarter video below
So many people believe that breaking gender stereotypes is about motivating girls. The successful breakers are the ones that realise it is just as important for boys as for girls to appreciate each other’s tastes and interests.
Hopefully, we will see this movement continue in the future.