“Dame Athene Donald, who is Professor of Experimental Physics at Cambridge University, believes more “creative” toys such as Lego and Meccano, which are more likely to be given to boys than girls, should replace traditional “girls’ toys,” reported The Telegraph.”
Isn’t this nice? A scientist that shares her beliefs with us… how about some facts, for a change?
Don’t get me wrong, I basically agree with her only she’s got her horses behind the cart.
First of all Dame Athene Donald shared this, otherwise sensible, piece of advice – “ditch Barbie for Lego” – a full year after “The Lego brick has toppled the Barbie doll—at least for now—in children’s affections.”
Secondly the parents influence their children’s future in a lot more ways than by the choice of toys that are presented to their offspring. That choice is indeed a very good indicator about the attitude of the parents but only that, an indicator – not at all a ‘sentence’.
Here is Professor Donald’s main argument: ““We introduce social constructs by stereotyping what toys boys and girls receive from the earliest age,” she went on. “Girls’ toys are typically liable to lead to passivity — combing the hair of Barbie, for instance — not building, imagining or being creative with Lego or Meccano.””
So combing hair, or dressing a doll, leads to passivity while playing with Lego necessarily leads to becoming a creative adult… Yeah… sure… That’s why fashion and cooking, two domains otherwise closely connected to the womenfolk, involve a huge amount of creativity while most manufacturing jobs – still performed predominantly by men – are mostly about following procedures…
So yes, I fully agree with her conclusion – ““We need to change the way we think about boys and girls and what’s appropriate for them from a very young age.”” – but I’m afraid that she arrived there led by her activism rather than by ‘scientific’ reasoning.
And since I’m very afraid of all forms of activism I’d rather follow the advice offered by Claire Gillespie, the author of the article that prodded me into writing this post:“Don’t pigeonhole little girls into typically “female” interests and subjects. Don’t pigeonhole little boys into typically “male” interests and subjects. And give all children the time and freedom to explore all their options, without forcing them to go down the arts or sciences route from a young age.”