While her friends dressed Barbie dolls, Lucy Sanders designed and constructed buildings with Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoys, and playing cards. She learned physics by playing with her Slinky, and chemistry, through her chemistry set. Sanders says that the board games she played with her family taught her strategy, empathy, and how to win and lose. Her parents did get her a Barbie—but she and her sister turned her into “gladiator Barbie”, “medieval Barbie”, and “superwoman Barbie”.
Sanders became a researcher and earned the title of Bell Labs Fellow, the highest technical accomplishment bestowed by the legendary research lab. She now heads up the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), which focuses on increasing women’s participation in technology. Sanders says that children’s toys greatly influence how they see themselves and what they become.