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We Started a Toy Company to Inspire Girls, Now They Inspire Us Every Day

TOPICS | Education Posted Friday, November 22, 2013 (771 views)

Hi, we’re Alice and Bettina, the creators of Roominate. Roominate is the DIY wired dollhouse building kit designed to inspire girls 6 and up in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). We knew starting a toy company wasn’t going to be easy, but we took on the challenge because of our deeply personal mission. We’re opening up more opportunities for girls by expanding their possibilities and inspiring them through play.

The two of us met in engineering graduate school at Stanford where we were shocked by the large drop off of women from undergrad to grad. In fact, less than 15% of women enter college intending to major in a STEM field. So we wondered, what drew us toward engineering? Why were we two of the few women in this field?

We realized our love for engineering started with our favorite toys, which weren’t what you’d think of as traditional girls’ toys. Alice grew up in her dad’s robotics lab. When she asked him for a Barbie, he gave her a saw instead. So she ended up building her own doll out of wood scraps! Bettina would play for hours on end with her brother’s hand-me-down Lego and Lincoln Logs, building elaborate cities. Those hands-on experiences planted a love of tinkering and inspired a love of engineering before we even knew what an engineer was!

When you look at the toys offered to girls today, it’s filled with pink frilly princesses and dolls. Why should only the boys have the fun toys where they get to discover the joy in building with your hands? We’ve created Roominate to give girls the opportunity and accessible tools for building, tinkering, and having fun. And while they’re playing for hours constructing their dream worlds, they’re practicing valuable skills that open up the path to success in STEM.

Roominate encourages:
• Hands-on problem solving skills
• Spatial skills
• Self-confidence

Since putting Roominate out into the market, what we’ve seen so far is beyond anything we could have ever imagined! We’ve learned so much from 6- and 7-year-old girls. They taught us not only how to make a fun building toy for girls, but just how far you can take Roominate. We’ve seen girls build RVs, marine biologist rooms, satellites, the Golden Gate Bridge, amusement park rides, and so much more! We started with a dollhouse, but girls have come back with more ideas than we could have ever dreamed of. We’re inspired and impressed every single day by their creativity.

We can’t wait to see what new creations girls come up with this holiday season!

Contributed by
Bettina Chen
Roominate Toys

As a young girl, Bettina loved Lego and built hundreds of extravagant creations with her older brother. She graduated from Caltech in 2010 with a BS in Electrical Engineering and received her MS in Electrical Engineering from Stanford in March 2012.


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Image courtesy of Roominate
Content courtesy of Roominate

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