Building blocks and cars aren't just boys' toys anymore

Jamie LaReau covers the automotive retail beat for Automotive News.Jamie LaReau covers the automotive retail beat for Automotive News.
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Meet GoldieBlox -- a toy intent on shattering stereotypes and changing the future.

GoldieBlox is a set of stories featuring heroine Goldie along with construction toys, her “blox.” It targets girls ages 4 to 9.

The girls read the GoldieBlox storybooks -- two so far -- and play along to each story’s theme using the GoldieBlox pieces. It helps build spatial skills, boost confidence in problem solving and teach the girls engineering feats such as building a belt drive or a wheel and axle.

Many female auto executives tell me that getting girls interested in engineering when they are young is critical to attracting more women to pursue careers in engineering and the auto industry.

These women leaders have expressed frustration that girls are not encouraged more at a young age to pursue math, science and engineering.

The GoldieBlox mission statement is clear. “We’re here to help level the playing field in every sense of the phrase,” reads GoldieBlox’s Web site.

GoldieBlox says that worldwide, 89 percent of engineers are men.

It says many girls lose interest in math, science and engineering as early as age 8, noting that “construction toys develop an early interest in these subjects, but for over a hundred years, they’ve been considered ‘boys’ toys.’”

GoldieBlox said by designing a construction toy from the female perspective, it wants to “inspire the future generation of female engineers.”

That’s a noble mission, because often when women do pursue those fields they can break down barriers and improve businesses. Take Mary Barra, who will be the first woman to run a global automaker when she becomes General Motors’ CEO in January.

Barra began her career as an engineer.

You can reach Jamie LaReau at jlareau@crain.com. -- Follow Jamie on Twitter

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