As a little girl, I loved Barbies. But now as an adult, I'm slightly embarrassed by this. My best defense: Well, there weren't better girls toys back then. Three decades later, when surveying the toy options for little girls, it doesn't look like that much has changed. Why is the toy aisle frozen in time?
Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, the CEO of a consulting firm focused on gender diversity, has a theory: She thinks that toy companies need more women at the top.
Wittenberg-Cox makes her case based on her observations of Lego, which has long been criticized for the gender imbalance in its product offerings. Small wonder, says Wittenberg-Cox, given what Lego's leadership looks like: Its senior management is comprised of 22 men and two women. Mattel, the maker of Barbie, doesn't look all that different, with 11 men and one woman at the top. The corporate management of the largest global toy companies doesn't stray from the narrative that women are underrepresented in boardrooms everywhere.
So would having more women at the top produce more girl-friendly Legos and Barbies? Do toys that come from companies run by women look any different?
Debbie Sterling, founder of GoldieBlox, an engineering toy for girls, agrees with Wittenberg-Cox: The toy industry needs more women, or the toys will continue to be stuck in the past.