I love this video from Goldieblox and its unapologetic push against stereotypical toys, and ultimately aspirations, for girls. But this ad begs the question of why, at a time when girls have more diverse opportunity than ever, Goldieblox's initiative seems so radical? The answer I've found is that girls don't want to be engineers.
An outrageous claim in an era of women's empowerment, but true. How many engineers do you see gracing the cover of Cosmo or posing backstage with Justin Bieber? In a society saturated with constant social media and the desire to be noticed, our young girls live in a fantasy culture that purports that with little effort and a few hundred well-liked selfies, they are entitled to fame and fortune -- sans skill, talent or knowledge.
There is a great chasm of ignorance spanning the potential of girls and the actual achievement of girls. Who dreams of becoming something they've never heard? Who is interested in something they don't understand? More important, who is going to speak up and tell these girls to stop underestimating themselves?
I've noticed that while boys are playing video games, basketball or with action figures, girls are often carrying out detailed role-playing scenarios. Is it wrong to grow up playing princess or house? I think it's important to spend time in an imaginary castle and eventually learn how to cook chicken. I played with Barbies and I don't have an eating disorder or self-esteem complex. But I also pretended to be a pharmacist, hotel manager and company president without batting an eyelash.
I am who I am today not because I thought I couldn't achieve something different or because someone told me no (trust me, my dad was always telling me to be a brain surgeon so I could fix him when he went crazy) but because this is who I want to be. Still, there is a hesitancy in approaching male-dominated fields, even while in the "safety" of a classroom.
My high school physics teacher, for instance, told me I was the "artsy-fartsy" type (very mature) and he would change that. I drew the best diagrams in that class, but let's just say his abrasive approach didn't lead to a great understanding of or interest in the subject. In college, a part of me knew that I should branch out of my comfort zone into business and web design classes... that those would be good experiences to collect in the direction I was headed. But at the time, I felt faced with the pressure of breaking into territory where I would be far outnumbered by the guys and far less prepared for the competitive skills they had already been subconsciously honing since they were 10 or staying in my comfort zone, where I was guaranteed good grades and preserved pride.
My husband is an engineer and every day I wish I knew more of the things he does. It would be great to build and create the things I imagine myself. I don't want other girls, with high school and college still ahead of them, to experience even the tiny regret that I do. That is why every year at Finding the Fabulous camp we have ambition day where campers and counselors dress up as what they want to be when they grow up. But the learning curve is still a steep one. This past year one counselor changed her profession halfway through the day when too many girls were confused about what it meant to be a CEO. Sure, we have the occasional doctor, veterinarian and artist, but we have an overwhelming majority of fashion designers and runway models. Never have we had an engineer.
Ask any girl to name one Kardashian and they will spit out the whole family in one breath. Ask the same girl to name a female engineer and you'll realize they're not even sure what an engineer is. Awesome toys are a great first step but they're only a first step if we want our girls becoming famous for more than a shocking haircut.
Know of a woman doing something awesome that girls should know about? Join the conversation with #FamousforMore @TheFabulousInMe.