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Engineer’s mission to “disrupt the pink aisle” comes to the UK

17 September 2014


The CEO and founder of GoldieBlox, an award-winning toy company on a mission to "disrupt the pink aisle" in supermarkets and toy shops with interactive construction toys and stories to encourage girls to become future innovators and engineers, will be the keynote speaker at a London event next week.

Debbie Sterling will address engineers, teachers and parents at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Women’s Network event “Inspiring the Next Generation”. She will discuss her own route into engineering: the people that influenced her: and how she went about creating an award-winning range of toys to banish outdated female toy stereotypes and entice young girls to play with interactive  construction toys traditionally reserved for boys.

An engineer and entrepreneur, Sterling, aged 32, made it her mission in life to tackle the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Sterling’s inspiration came as she thought back on her days studying at Stanford University, where she was only one of a handful of women in her engineering class. The gender discrepancy in engineering was something she was determined to change.

Sterling created GoldieBlox to introduce engineering concepts to girls at an early age, providing them with more options and spawning a movement to disrupt pink toy aisles everywhere. GoldieBlox is an interactive toy, containing a book series and construction set, which encourages kids to build in the context of a narrative. The stories feature Goldie, a girl inventor who solves problems by building simple machines.

Michelle Richmond, IET Director of Membership, said: “Women currently represent only 6 per cent of the engineering workforce in the UK, the lowest percentage in Europe. If this trend continues, the UK will be in a significantly weakened position to find the 87,000 new engineers it is estimated the country will need each year over the next decade (according to Engineering UK).

“The lack of women in engineering is a huge problem for this country, contributing to skills shortages which damage the economy. The shocking reality is that the UK is only utilising a small fraction of the potential workforce in this vital sector. It also means that women are missing out on interesting and rewarding career opportunities.”

The company began on funding platform Kickstarter, launching in the US in 2012 and going from prototype to selling more than $1M of product through pre-orders in less than a year. GoldieBlox is now available in the US, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.

The event takes place at 6:30pm on Wednesday 24 September at the Al Qasimi Lecture Theatre in Prince Phillip House, central London. For more information, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-iet-womens-network-inspiring-the-next-generation-tickets-13065079003.

The IET Women's Network runs regular events which aim to provide female engineers with a means of support to help them throughout their career.

Media enquiries to:

Hannah Kellett
External Communications Manager

Tel: +44 (0)1438 767336
Mob: +44 (0)7738 602426
Email: HKellett@theiet.org

Notes to editors:

  • Interview opportunities are available with IET spokespeople from a broad range of engineering and technology disciplines including cyber-security, energy, engineering skills, innovation, manufacturing, technology, transport and women in engineering.
  • The IET is one of the world’s largest engineering institutions with nearly 160,000 members in 127 countries. It is also the most multidisciplinary – to reflect the increasingly diverse nature of engineering in the 21st century. Energy, transport, manufacturing, information and communications, and the built environment: the IET covers them all.
  • The IET is working to engineer a better world by inspiring, informing and influencing our members, engineers and technicians, and all those who are touched by, or touch, the work of engineers.
  • We want to build the profile of engineering and change outdated perceptions about engineering in order to tackle the skills gap. This includes encouraging more women to become engineers and growing the number of engineering apprentices.