I am completely inspired by this company!  From everything I’m reading and understanding, Goldieblox ignites a drive in young girls (and our future woman leaders) to seek solutions to challenges, and be competent, self sufficient and innovative people.

Watch the video and I bet you will be entertained.  I’ll provide a leap to connect this kid’s toy commercial to triathlon..our focus in this blog.   When holiday shopping for my young niece my engineer husband put this on my radar.

This is not a blog about how an individual family should select their kids toys and I’m no expert in childhood development.  I just support developing strong female leaders and am excited by how toys available in our society could shape progress and opportunities for women down the road.  

Goldieblox goes beyond traditional playtime pink and sparkly props for young girls.  They blend stories and characters to their early engineering toys.  Generally speaking little girls love stories and characters in their play.  

My favorite math and science related toys in the 80s (besides “Connect 4” “hungry hippo” and “Operation”hehe)…
As a young girl I had “astronaut barbie” who wore a stunning shiny magenta space suit including an invisible helmet so you could see her hair.  I’m a fan of Barbie.   She’s an icon and part of my upbringing but I’m not convinced astronaut barbie inspired me on any meaningful, catalystic developmental level through play.  
I also had a “rock tumbler” and for a little while wanted to be a geologist and studied rocks.  I hiked with my family searching for fossils and adventure.  When we weren’t playing with Barbies, we were building forts in the woods, riding bikes and playing in our garden.  Our play was versatile but there was nothing I can think of like Goldieblox that tied the creative stories we loved and the adventures we sought to the fundamentals of engineering at a young age. 

In the Teen Years….
I confess, looking back in my early teen days in geometry class, I tended to pass the occasional note all folded up 90s teenage girl origami style (before there was texting) to my best friend.  Yes, I still succeeded but was not passionate in the topic as I did not have a concept as to how geometry class connected to things I valued outside of academic achievement.    I took a strong and passionate interest in geometry for the first time when I received my triathlon bike fit and discovered fast bike times and wind cheating advantage is all about angles.  

Now, I’m a full fledged triathlon GEEK and understand that mathematics is essential to our sport.  I love to study and pour over post training data in the form of power files, fitness charts and graphs.  Furthermore, engineering is critical, interesting and a driving influence in tri.
I’d love to see more engineers and strong women leaders in general in our sport. The founder of Goldieblox strives to interest girls in engineering.   
OK, I’m going to boast now…I have just made the  giant subject matter LEAP I promised I would when I led my tri-centric audience to watch a kids toy commercial!   : )

Shopping and Bike Geek Gals..

I am constantly on the lookout for the cutting edge triathlon related products to drool over.  Bikes are fast and fascinating machines especially when you have even a very limited understanding of the designs behind the wind cheating blends of art and science in cycling.   

I have accompanied many a friend from newbie to advanced on trips to bike shops so we can bond and drool over the latest attractive cycling kits, run skirts and CARBON FIBER fast, light speed weaponry to add to our race day arsenal.    My tri girlfriends and I often catch up in a bike shop.  While we will try on the bike pants and cool pink jackets or zebra print cycling tops we will also be sure to catch up on life and perhaps our latest power test PRs, how many watts we could push, our training stress score woes or time trial speed results, the virtues of a long tail vs short tail helmet and weight vs CdA.  http://www.cyclingpowerlab.com/CyclingAerodynamics.aspx    We often wind up a new bike in the back of our minds on a dream list.  

We have become speed conscience, aerodynamic obsessed, technology loving triathlon women.  We like the color pink but we also love to go fast and take advantage of aerodynamics as we experience our adventures.  Personally, this deep appreciation for the engineering behind our favorite products took time to develop but I have the love and passion for it now!  I do wish I had more of a background for this earlier because I was missing out.  Some of the innovations in the tri industry make me shiver with glee now.    

BIKES: Women’s Limited Product Selection and Innovation….

Disappointment sunk in when I discovered this passion and products knowledge but found last year that as a 5’3 (one inch less than the average female height in America per a quick google search) woman riding a 650 (smaller wheel set to accommodate small frame size many women need) bike, I could not personally experience these joys.  None of the “superbikes” produced by manufacturers with the highest quality in everything from materials and design could work in my size.  

I loved my 650 tri bike and had it dialed down to fit me just right, but when it came time to find products that complemented it such as race wheels, the most popular race day products were not made for women.   The most recognized manufactures had discontinued making 650 clincher disc wheels even though I understand women’s presence in triathlon is a fast growing demographic.  Our interest in top end super fast and aero equipment is no less than our fellow male racers but the products are often simply not available to us.  A common cited reason is that it just costs too much to make the molds for both our 650 wheels and the industry standard and more popular 700s.

I was on the cusp and could go either way, so I eventually sized up to 700 wheels.

I like to buy technologically advanced cutting edge cycling products from companies where there is apparent consideration for women’s unique needs, obviously.   Our options are few and far in between.  

Is it a question of the sport being male dominated with no “reason” to develop products for the smaller population?   

Is it because the engineering and cycling industry in general is male dominated? The male perspective comes through. 

Or is it because the companies perceive  women care more about a pink sparkly bike than an fast, light well engineered race force bike?

I do not have the answer but I’d love for us to think about this!

Inside Triathlon magazine did an article to feature the top women leaders in the the triathlon business world.  One stellar innovator named was an engineer at Sram, Chris Raymo.  
“The bike industry in particular is very male-dominated,” Raymo says. She makes it a point to meet with other women in her field once a month to pool resources and discuss the challenges they face in the workplace. Raymo’s advice to other women who hope to thrive in typically male-dominated careers: “Be fearless. Be yourself and go after those things that you want. Don’t let others’ expectations intimidate you. When I was younger, I was afraid I’d make a mistake I could never overcome, but sometimes the failures move your head more than the successes. Have all of the experiences you possibly can so you can learn about where you really want to be, where you truly fit and what truly makes you happy.”- Chris Raymo- Sram

When shopping for your next aerodynamic monster..err bike and accessories ask….

Do they actually take a women’s unique size and anatomy into consideration, or do they simply paint the bike “PINK” and market it as their “women’s” bike?

If the frame design is the same as the unisex model but they have a women’s version (not a problem in my book) is the price increase on the women’s bike driven by marketing via color (not cool) by actual value with special features for us?  Are there women’s specific components such as bike seat for women or smaller shifters?  Does their higher end bike have a women’s model.

Will they carry small sizes in their line?  How “adjustable” are the bikes?

Do they offer race ready products for 650 wheels (the smaller wheel size that accommodates tiny frames that fit “shorter” riders.  

In mountain bike world how have they approached balancing the 29 inch wheel size and smaller rider’s need for handling?  I love Scott Bikes 27.5 size. : )

THIS bike company is the only one I can find that makes a 650 disc wheel in a clincher: 

Scott bikes so far has impressed me with their product offerings and their Contessa series just from my perspective as a female consumer.  Trek is also a top brand.  There are many others but those are the ones that stick out for me.

Follow up reading for the geometry lovers:
A topic for another day, but this article speaks to the design issues surrounding women. Some of the reader commentary posted on this very well written article explaining design issues manufactures face asks us to imagine if the industry were led and dominated by women.  Perhaps the title “The Problems with Women” would be the opposite?  I am happy about the forward progress being made in opportunities for women in triathlon and excited about a more diverse mix of leaders and developers for triathlon down the road.  I dream of a day it would not be “Exciting” for a bike mfg to cater to or offer something for women.  It would be the norm.  No one would think twice.   I want all superbikes  dominant blazing product developers with top of the line cutting edge technology in our sport to be universal enough to have been manufactured with investments in both men and women athletes.

Circling back… I’m buying the little girls on my holiday list goldieblox products and looking forward to cycling industries response to women’s needs as products are developed both in the immediate and long term future.