Spacefem (spacefem) wrote,
Spacefem
spacefem

engineering toys for girls... hmmm...

This year it feels like if you can get a great idea for getting girls into science, and get it on kickstarter, you will get amazing funding fast. Two new toys are in the works and people bring them to my attention a lot: roominate, a sort of doll house building toy where kids also wire up fans and little TVs in addition to designing and snapping rooms together. And goldieblox, a gadget-building toy where kids follow stories to achieve a practical goal.

They're nice, but I'm kind of a debbie downer about the whole thing because I don't like that we have toys "for girls" in any sense of the world. At my job I don't tackle the problems "for girls", the world isn't segregated into perfect pink and blue aisles. But toy stores are. That's what really annoys me.

And you could argue (many are) that we have to have these new cool "engineering for girls" toys because parents already put their kids into these little boxes, so you have to pander to them and make it clear who the audience is because it's their money. I feel like the parents who would buy these toys are the ones who already want their girls to go into science... and they're going to wonder about why the stuff has to be pink.

I grew up playing with everything. We had an awesome barbie house, a box of hot wheels, lego, lincoln logs. I was kinda mad that there weren't any lego women, but my last trip to one of their stores I found a lot more minifigs hair styles (heck, a lot more minifigs period!) so that problems seems to be solved... unless lego tries to screw it up with their odd "friends" sets "for girls" that don't really work with existing lego people. again, segregated worlds.

anyway that's the message I really want to get out to parents and girls... can't we just all play with everything?

I also heard an interview with Sally Ride a while back where she brought up the point that she's even seen proud parents of girls treat their own children like freakshows when they show an interest in math and science. She would go talk to classes, and have these mothers come up to her later to say "I can't believe my daughter loves math but she DOES, it's amazing, none of the women in our family have every loved math. I don't know any women who are good at math. Isn't it great?" meanwhile this poor girl is just sitting there trying to be normal, getting this huge mixed message that her mother is both proud and confused by her presence. I wonder if we continue sending girls those signals when we invent new toys with unique features, like prescriptions for very specific ailments.

Anyway, I am not a parent of girl who's the target age for these toys, I don't know if they really help counteract society's messages or if girls will love them or what. But something about them leaves me less than excited, I don't know if that makes me a bad woman engineer or not. It just seems like we're overthinking something here.
Tags: engineering
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