We tell our girls they can do anything. Be anything.
So, why is it so hard to find clothes for young girls who aspire to explore the universe or dig for dinosaurs?
The images matter. They tell young girls that things like science and engineering aren’t for them.
When girls see at a young age that topics like space and dinosaurs are marketed only to young boys, it sends the message that those topics are for boys–not for young girls. It’s a critical point in developing self-identity and the messages sent are subtle, yet powerful.
When Jennifer’s daughter was four-years-old, she wanted to be an astronaut for Halloween—until costume catalogues came in the mail. Only boys were shown wearing the space suit. She said, “I can’t be an astronaut! That costume is for boys!”
After seeing photos of female astronauts, she made a great astronaut for Halloween.
A few months later, Malorie’s two-year-old was ready to potty train and wanted underpants featuring trains, which were only available in the boys section. Malorie and her husband bought them anyway.
These experiences caused us not only to think about the images being marketed (or not marketed) to our daughters, but also how we could fix it.
We spent a year creating fabric, designing simple play clothes and launched buddingSTEM this March via a Kickstarter campaign.
buddingSTEM offers a full line of girls clothes celebrating science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and other things typically marketed to boys.
Little girls and boys are sorting out what it means to be a girl and a boy. Girls are bombarded by what social researchers call the “pink frilly dress”—clothes and toys that pigeonhole girls as passive and fail to recognize their range of interests.
The distinction of STEM fields as being “for boys” begins as young as ages 2 to 4, and often continues into the elementary school years. Young girls become women, who are woefully underrepresented in STEM fields of work. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 26 percent of STEM workers are women.
buddingSTEM’s Kickstarter campaign will help bring its designs to production. We design the clothes in Seattle, and have production facilities in Seattle and Los Angeles. The line is starting with t-shirt dresses, leggings and t-shirts, with plans to add more designs such as underpants coming soon.
Jennifer Muhm and Malorie Catchpole are two Seattle moms who decided to take action when they could not find the things their girls love on clothing marketed to girls.
When not sketching out a new pattern for buddingSTEM or hanging out with her husband and awesome daughter, Jennifer works in public affairs. She graduated from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and holds a master’s degree from Seattle University.
During the day, Malorie is a regulatory compliance attorney, but adores spending time with her husband, two wonderful children, and a menagerie of animals that live in her house. Malorie is also a graduate of George Washington University and Seattle University School of Law.