Move over, Barbie playhouse, prefab dollhouses are out. In an effort to increase the number of women pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) related fields, three female Stanford graduates have created a DIY dollhouse that children can design, build, decorate, and wire with electricity. Roominate combines the comfort of playing with a dollhouse, a toy traditionally marketed toward girls, with new opportunities to explore circuitry, architecture, and design.
Alice Brooks, Bettina Chen, and Jennifer Kessler, all engineering and neuroscience majors, noticed that throughout their educational experience, they were always outnumbered by men. That wasn’t entirely surprising, considering that only 15% of women college first-years intend to major in a STEM field and less than 11% of engineers are women. Endeavoring to attract more women to science and technology, they brainstormed the reasons why they ended up in the field, despite the apparent odds against them: “We realized that our own experiences in childhood were integral in attracting us to math and science as adults.”
In that sense, Roominate is an intervention — it gives girls a comfortable space to explore technology using a toy that is traditionally marketed toward them. But Roominate is more than a tool to teach girls the basics of wiring a room for electricity — it’s a space for girls to flourish in their own unique way, in contrast to toys that often pigeonhole them into one role: “Provide a girl with a buzzer and a motor, and she’s decided her room is a restaurant, with the motor serving as a fan to cool patrons and the buzzer being used by the chef when an order is ready. Provide a girl with a set of animal stickers, and her room becomes a pet shop, complete with dog beds and animal food bowls.”
Check out some more photos of this awesome toy (and future scientists and engineers using it!) and take a look at their Kickstarter campaign to help fund their effort to bring more women into science and technology!
(via Geek Sugar.)