What if the solution to the STEM jobs’ gender-gap comes from changing the way young girls play? Full Frame sat down with two women empowerment advocates who believe toys could transform the landscape of STEM for the next generation.
When Alice Brooks was 8 years old, she asked Santa for a Barbie. Instead, she received a saw. With it, she built her own dolls and toys and the experience directed her towards a very bright future. Brooks went on to study Mechanical Engineering at MIT and she obtained a Masters in Mechanical Engineering Design from Stanford University. Brooks believes her love of engineering is a result of her parents’ pushing her to build things early in her life.
“It’s about opening girls up to more possibilities. The more they can explore when they’re younger, the more options they’ll have later on,” Brooks said.
Today, she designs toys to engage girls in STEM learning. Brooks’ celebrated creation, Roominate, is a kit of building pieces and circuit components, which inspires children to use their own creativity to design, build, wire, and decorate a unique interactive room.
“Our vision is to turn this into a toy that can touch girls everywhere across the world,” Brooks said. “We want this to be a big part of their inspiration for getting interested in engineering or technology.”
Anea Bogue has nearly 20 years of experience as an educator, certified life coach, consultant, writer and highly sought-after speaker. She has dedicated half of her life to a cause that she is extremely passionate about – empowering women and girls.
STEM toys for girls build the right foundationWhat if the solution to the gender gap among STEM jobs comes from changing the way young girls play? Full Frame sat down with two women empowerment advocates who believe toys could transform the landscape of STEM for the next generation.
Bogue says many features of popular culture send girls unfavorable messages about their potential in society.
“I often think what we’re doing with girls is sort of what we do when we keep a plant in a pot that’s too small, we literally hinder it’s growth,” Bogue said.
To combat this issue, Bogue founded the organization REALgirl, which is dedicated to inspiring and guiding 9 to 16 year old girls to discover their ‘REAL’ (authentic) selves and develop the skills, knowledge, confidence and courage they need to consistently make informed life-choices based on self-knowledge, self-respect and strength. Like Brooks, Bogue believes STEM toys can also have a major impact on girls’ futures.
“By exposing girls to these kinds of toys, and even just showing them women in positions that are unlike the status quo, it gives them permission to grow beyond where we’ve kept them thus far,” Bogue said.
Together with Mike Walter, Bogue and Brooks described how girls’ futures are formed by their childhood environments and they shared a few fun innovations that could help to boost young girls’ potential from an early age.