Girls and Their Toys

Log Cabin

Do you remember your favorite toy growing up, building blocks, a big toy truck, a special doll? For me it was a slot car race track! At the time, the box was bigger than me. I spent the entire winter vacation building the track, taking apart, building again in a different configuration and racing cars. The cars were metal and you could change out the bodies that were red, black, blue, white and silver. I pretended that I was a race car driver and a race car designer. I never became one, but still love cars and machines to this day. When my soon to be husband came to my parent’s house for the first time, we took out the race track. My parents tried to sneak up on us thinking we were doing something else in the basement, but no – we were racing slot cars.

I have always believed that the toys I played with influenced my decision to be a mechanical engineer. Now there are formal studies that prove my statement. Girls especially need early exposure to construction toys to have the same advantage as boys in play, in school and in career selection. So with the holiday season approaching, I visited a toy store to select my favorites.

charlotte playing with Duplos

Starting at 18 months – DUPLO is my favorite. These blocks are bigger versions of LEGO’s.


Later as the child grows – stick to the LEGO’s that build things that rotate and translate. They are found in the “boy section” of the toy store. In  school, children are being exposed to LEGO Education earlier in many classrooms. In school and after school robotics such as FIRST LEGO League (FLL) use LEGO for building robots



Well done Tinker Toy! Starting at age 3 you can pick the box with a little girl or a little boy on the front cover – it’s the same toy.

GoldieBlox Girl Inventor

GoldieBlox and founder, Debbie Sterling, have changed the definition of the action doll/model doll figure. Little girls,starting at age 4, can be engineers too! Goldie comes with a cool zip line and a series of other toys and books that let you design things, make mistakes, create better solutions and have fun. Goldie’s friends are smart, determined, bold and different from the other model dress up doll options for girls.


When an electrical and mechanical engineer come together, great things happen. Roominate, from women engineers Alice Brooks and Bettina Chen, created the construction toy with a strong focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) principles, creating fun, hands-on learning for girls ages 6 and up.


So what do you give the ever hard to buy for teenage daughter? One of my favorite presents I got from my parents was my own tool kit. There is something about owning your own hammer and being able to build that “some assembly required” book shelf or end table for your bed room. Girls can learn from reading assembly instructions and making something.

The toys you do select make a difference to your daughters, sisters, nieces, cousins and friends. You will want to play too. Happy shopping!





up the action doll/

Marie Planchard

Marie Planchard

Senior Director, Early Engagement, 3DEXPERIENCE Works at Dassault Systemes
Marie Planchard is an education and engineering advocate. As Senior Director of Education & Early Engagement, SOLIDWORKS, she is responsible for global development of content and social outreach for the 3DEXPERIENCE Works products across all levels of learning including educational institutions, Fab Labs, and entrepreneurship.
Marie Planchard