SuperGirls: Science is for Girls too
Meg here. For me June has been an exciting month for Geek-Parenting. In May, I blogged about the challenge of enabling a SuperGirl to develop her own geekery and Disney’s deletion of Princess Leia from its Star Wars toy range. At the start of June it was announced that #WeWantLeia has won. Leia will be in Disney stores soon. YAY!
This issue of Girl Geek toys continues to run and run.
The internet is alive with blogs pointing out the outrageous genderisation of toys which, when I were a lass, were the preserve of both sexes. Of these, top of the pops is Lego, which moved from being a gender-neutral creative toy in the 1980s to being, well, pink. Unless you’re a boy, of course. Cue numerous campaigns like #LiberateLego led by people who believe that toys should not shut off a child’s options or aspirations by pigeonholing them as soldiers or beauticians (no disrespect intended to either profession).
Those campaigns have now won out. Lego paid attention to what thousands of consumers have demanded and announced the release of the Research Institute – a new line of Lego figurines featuring female scientists: an astronomer, a chemist and a palaeontologist (complete with dinosaur). This shouldn’t be so rare that it is worth of international news coverage – sadly, it is (a google news search for “Lego” “Research Institute” got 1,040 hits, from the Time magazine to Elle Malaysia).
Still, props to Lego for ringing the changes – and long may it continue.
It’s not just about giving kids access to toys. By denying girls images of women specialising in geek subjects, we educate girls away from subjects like Engineering and Physics: we tell them that science is for boys. And by denying them the types of toys that build engineering thinking and skills, we inhibit their opportunities. Imagine what science would be like if Marie Curie‘s Dad hadn’t let her play with his lab equipment?
Less than 1 in 10 engineers in the UK are women. In the USA, college-educated women are less than half as likely as men to be employed in science and engineering jobs and when they are, are likely to earn 20% less than their male counterparts.
Not. Good. Enough.
However, the #LiberateLego campaign shows us that we have power. If we make our voices heard loudly and long enough, we can make a difference.
We can tell Disney that #WeWantLeia, result: our girls get to access Princess Leia, and are exposed to a smart and self reliant female leader.
We can tell Lego to #LiberateLego, result: our girls get to play with scientists and dinosaurs, showing them making women in STEM subjects become part of their norm.
We have power, if we just notice it. Be heard!