It's December, and that means that anyone who has a young girl to shop for is right now wondering how to find something that doesn't reinforce patriarchal gender roles but will still be something she finds cool. Which is why the idea of Jewliebots' friendship bracelets that teach girls to code sounds fantastic right about now. Unfortunately they're not ready for purchase just yet, because clearly the holidays hate me, but the idea itself sounds fantastic. I mean, friendship bracelets that encourage girls in STEM? Pop the champagne.
"The idea is to make something young girls love, and love it so much they want to customize it," Sarah Chipps, Jewliebots cofounder and founder of Girl Develop It, said in an interview with the Daily Dot. The bracelets are similar to the friendship bracelets that were all the rage in the 90s, with one major twist: using an app, girls can customize them, letting them match the bracelet to their outfit or sync them to match a friend's. They can even be programmed to light up when a friend's bracelet is in the vicinity. And more advanced coders can create their own unique patterns beyond the standard options the app provides.
It's '90s fashion gone high tech, and, as an added bonus, it might get some girls curious about coding. "There are a lot of programs out there where we tell young women [coding] is important, and we try to teach them, but we’re trying to approach it from a different angle—create something that they love in hopes that makes them curious,” Chipps explained.
The company has been working with teens in the Bay Area to develop the style of the bracelets, and hopes to have a Kickstarter up in January to really get the project off the ground.
Overall, this idea sounds awesome, not just because I'm always a fan of getting more girls interested in STEM, but because it strives to do so without patronizing young women, or trying to make programming overly girly. Rather, it takes something many young girls are already potentially interested in — in this case friendship bracelets — and puts a technological twist on them. It's about integrating STEM into girl's lives, rather than trying to make stuff like computer programming dumber and pinker thinking that will appeal to girls.
Plus, anything is better than that stupid Barbie "engineering" book.
Now if only they were already available this year so that I could give them to all of my cousin's daughters and check that off my holiday gift-giving list. Well there's always next year!