A startup is developing a toy that allows girls (and boys) to learn coding and play with dolls at the same time
Spotted: There is a big shortage of coders. According to the US Labor Department, the global shortage of software engineers is estimated to reach 85.2 million by 2030. A lot of this could be fixed by closing the gender gap in coding – it is estimated that women make up just 16 per cent of the IT Engineering workforce. Startup E-liza is hoping to change that – with a doll. The company builds dolls that include programmable computers that girls can code through an app.
Founder Eliza Kosoy, a PhD student studying child development and artificial intelligence, came up with the idea because she wanted a way for girls to learn about coding without having to give up their other interests. The doll, which is being launched on Kickstarter in 2023, operates using hardware embedded in each doll. It has a screen and is Bluetooth-enabled to receive code from a companion app.
Girls (and boys) can code the doll to perform various actions, such as acting as a security alarm. Built-in and add-on sensors extend the doll’s utility. For example, a heartbeat pulse sensor can be used to turn the doll into a lie detector.
Kosoy points out that the toy market is filled with STEM toys that are marketed specifically towards boys, and girls may like the opportunity to play with a toy designed for them.
Closing the STEM gender gap is the subject of a huge number of innovations covered here at Springwise. Ideas include a crowdfunding platform for STEM projects led by women and a predictive text app that reverses gendered language.
Written By: Lisa Magloff