Thursday, March 8, 2012

design is in the... big picture

[Image from The Society Pages]

I recently started working on a very exciting, unfortunately top secret, project with an amazing company called Goldie Blox. While I cannot get into specifics, it tackles several issues very close to my heart. Goldie Blox's mission is to encourage young girls to be engineers through designing a way show girls their potential.

Young girls today are told that they can be anything that they want. This is the message I grew up with,  the message that inspired me to work hard and pursue my dreams. It is an incredibly positive thing, and one that should be a given.  The problem is that while girls are told they can be anything they want to be, we are not always inspiring girls to look at the broad array of things that they could be. This is particularly troubling in comparison to the things that boys know they can be and the things that boys already have role models in place to admire.

How does this relate to design? The messages that girls receive are typically subtle and unintentional. Even when the decision was intentional, the resulting message was unintentional. For instance, think of the books you were assigned in school. Many of those books had male protagonists. Teachers know that girls are able- perhaps through conditioning- to relate to male characters, while young boys have difficulty relating to female characters. As a result, girls read stories in which the male characters achieve much more than the female characters. Design is a process of recognizing a problem and working to create solutions. We can design products, stories, and educational systems that change the message that girls receive. That adapt to the differences in development and learning styles in young children without dividing. Or defaulting to pink and purple.

What excites me most about Goldie Blox, other than its massive big mission, is the consciousness of the founders to the role of design in the process- from the details up to the big picture. I get to play a teeny part and am so excited to watch this project grow.


Eli said...

What a cool idea! I don't think many people realize the subliminal messages companies give out through books and ads, like the examples you gave. I've been researching the unbalanced representation of white children in kids picture books, it's something like 90% white kids and 10% everything else in the US, when depending on where you live, it really isn't like that. It also makes me mad how things are broken up into "girls things" and "boy things" I had to buy a friend a baby gift the other day at Target and there were only blue or pink clothes for babies!! Okay, end rant!

percentblog said...

I completely agree! Thanks so much for continuing the conversation- it was a very worthwhile rant!

blue roses said...

that was the exact ad i was referring to in my article spreadsheet (random, i know, but indeed i am still thinking much about the collaborative blog.....)

i cannot wait to hear more!