If you're coming over from Mommy Shorts, you know all that, and may be wondering who the heck I am, and why you should listen to me about toys. First of all, welcome! As you can see from my profile blurb, I am a scientist and a techie, and I have two daughters. And that is the extent of my qualifications to discuss toys. I feel strongly about this subject, though, because at least once a year I am told either in person or by some luminary like the President of Harvard or a New York Times science writer that the fact that there are fewer women in science than men can be explained by the fact that men are just innately better at math and science. The evidence does not support that statement, even though it is a widely held belief in our society. This is a classic self-fulfilling statement, and the differences in the toys we give our boys and girls are part of what helps fulfill it. For more on the myths about why there are fewer women in science than men, take a look at this article summarizing an evidence-based talk on the subject. In particular, notice this quote:
"A study published by the National Academy Press entitled “Beyond Bias and Barriers” reported findings on women’s ability, persistence in science, evaluation by peers, and reviewed strategies that effectively kept women in science. By almost all measures there was no difference in ability, the one exception being rotation of 3D objects in space, which seems to be more attributable to childhood play than inborn aptitude."
Which brings us back to toys. If you want to read more about my opinions on princesses, gender stereotyping, and the LEGO Friends controversy, here is a list of posts that cover those topics:
- The post that started it all, in which I first ranted about the lack of princesses in LEGO castles.
- The Princess Are Not the Problem post has more about our capitulation to the princesses and why I no longer worry about it.
- Different Genders, Gender Differences, and How We Handle the Princesses has still more about how we're handling gender stereotypes, including more about the Pink Brain, Blue Brain book.
- And most recently, my review of the LEGO Friends sets... after having actually purchased one and watched my daughter play with it.
Update: I have a follow up post up with some of our favorite gender neutral math/logic promoting toys.