Today my social media feeds have been filled with opinions of the new Goldie Blox doll.
Here’s the ad parodying Apple’s ad featuring a 1984 theme.
So many critics are crying “It’s not enough! She’s white, thin and pretty, so this is just more of the same.” Now I agree that the doll could do more to be more inclusive of difernt body types and minorities . To the company’s credit they have included characters from different races in some of their previous products, so I suspect that if this first doll takes off then there will be more from different backgrounds to follow. However I couldn’t disagree more with the “more of the same” claim, for one simple reason… SHE HAS TOOLS! I have never seen a fashion doll with a tools, have you. I decided to find out how hard it would be to find a doll with tools. So I typed “doll with tools” into a search engine and got lots of Handy Many. Well I guess that’s something. If you look closely you can see Kelly, a female hardware store owner, in the window.
I decided that searching the entire internet would be too daunting so instead I conducted a search on Amazon.
I searched under the category “dolls and accessories” for “tool” and yielded 59 pages of results, at least that’s slightly more manageable. As I began skimming the results I saw many of them had absolutely nothing to do with tools, things like bottles of milk, cloths and for some reason adult sex dolls came up in this search. There were also a lot of fashion and beauty tools for dolls in this search, but very few examples of things resembling actual construction tools. One interesting thing I did find quite a few of, were accessories for hobby doll houses, that could in theory be purchased as accessories for a fashion doll. But toys that are constructed for hobbyist they might not hold up in the hands of a child playing with them. This horse grooming tool set did catch my eye as it resembles an actual tool box.
It’s from the Breyer horse collection so I decided to look more into these toys to see if I could find a doll that came with tools. I found only one:
By the way here’s a picture of my own sons watching a female blacksmith in action,
they thought she was awesome.
The Breyer doll was not the only “tool man” I found.
There was this porcelain doll titled “Tools Make the Man”
And then there was this gem from Barbie
Of course the tools are meant for Ken and even included this product description; “This set contains all the tools Ken needs for Barbie’s “Honey Do” list and Tommy’s toy project!”
I realize that my search on Amazon is not the final word on whether or not there are any other female dolls with tools but I think searching through 59 pages in hopes of finding one is more effort than the average person, looking to buy a doll for a kid, would put forth. Most will just walk down the pink aisle at a store, or search for “girl toys” on a website. It is here that the need for this toy is seen, because it has the potential to come up in one of those searches. If anyone reading this is aware of another doll that has her own set of tools please let me know. Not only will I put effort into promoting it, I’d like to buy one
to play with for my kids to play with.
If you asked one of my kids ” Who builds things, a mommy or a daddy?” they would answer “a mommy” because this is the norm they have been exposed to in our home. Carpentry is one of my favorite hobbies (that I wish I had more time and money to put into) and because of this, in our home, I’m considered the fixer. This is one gender role that I love to see my kids mirroring in their play. My kids have always had toy tools to play with and my oldest (8) has his own set of real tools, he uses when we do projects together. I wholeheartedly believe that becoming comfortable with tools in hand, should be a part of growing up for every child.
So tools have always been a popular play theme here. Since my daughter (2) will probably take an interest in fashion dolls as she gets older (when she sees all of the other girls playing with them), it’s obvious why I would love to see them combined. However I see this as being bigger than my own family. Right now there is a big push to get girls interested in STEM fields, and although I think it’s wonderful, I think that there needs to be more tools for our girls to use other than Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Our girls need exposure to actual tools! Working in STEM professions often requires working with tools, but also not everyone will become successful scientist. Realistically speaking some of them will enter the workforce as blue-collar workers or skilled laborers.
When these people find themselves entering the work force, relying on the talents and skills they already have, what professions will those skills lend themselves to? How many female auto mechanics have you ever seen? I’ve never met one, yet I know they exist, so I looked it up and found numbers ranging from 1% to less than 2%. Women construction workers are only slightly more common, making up 2.6% of the total. “The construction industry offers a growing number of well-paying jobs for individuals without college or graduate school training. According to an article on high-employment-growth firms by the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, among 20 different industries, construction is the nation’s fifth-largest contributor to job creation, generating more than 300,000 jobs from 2009 through 2012. Construction jobs often represent a means of entry into the American middle class.” Why are so few women doing these jobs? One reason may be that they don’t want to deal with the sexism that is prevalent in male dominated professions, but I’m sure the majority just never saw themselves doing a job like that. Most people in these professions can recall childhood memories of working with tools, memories that far too few girls have.
So yes I think this white, thin and pretty little doll holding a wrench in hand is a good first step, towards getting the image of a girl with a tool, to be seen as less of a strange concept. Hopefully if their sales are good the company will put out more Goldie dolls (hopefully with more elaborate tool boxes) along with some of her more diverse friends. Unfortunately products that are drastically different from what’s out there don’t experience the kind of growth that Goldie Blox has seen. This company has managed to go from a Kickstarter project to being on Toys R Us shelves in less than a year. I think they have managed to do this by being just different enough from other toys marketed to girls while reaming familiar to what people are used to. After all the toy with the perfect ratio of diversity, encouragement and empowerment is useless to the child who doesn’t get to play with it.