Story 2014-04-08 3HM Science Toys For Girls

Science Toys For Girls

in science on (#3HM)
story imageWired has an interesting article about a new company, Goldiebox , who is making science and engineering toys targeted to young girls . Apparently, this new direction in play-education was not supported by the conventional toy industry, but through crowd-funding Goldiebox was able to break into the mass market and is going like gang-busters. Interesting quote from the CEO: "A lot of the men in the toy industry have daughters, and many of them are tired of what they have to offer their daughters, too."
Reply 11 comments

LEGO Blocks (Score: 5, Insightful)

by on 2014-04-08 17:05 (#10P)

The only thing that makes LEGO a boy toy instead of a girl toy is because we tell ourselves it is because it isn't Barbie. While LEGO specifically has a series of sets directly targeting girls (bigger minifigs, various shades of pink blocks) there are no sets targeting boys. They have a mostly boy base because there aren't that many good toys for boys either, especially that make them think. My friends kids, 4 girls, 3 boys (what can I say, it's Utah), all enjoy playing with LEGO blocks together. The younger ones also enjoy Mr./Mrs. Potato Head and dress up, both of which also foster creativity and imaginative thought for boys and girls alike. Having so many kids they need have toys and games that all can enjoy: it saves space and money. Why define strict gender roles at home when they're going to be bombarded by it for the rest of their lives?

Re: LEGO Blocks (Score: 5, Insightful)

by on 2014-04-08 17:35 (#10R)

The only thing that makes LEGO a boy toy instead of a girl toy is because we tell ourselves it is because it isn't Barbie. While LEGO specifically has a series of sets directly targeting girls [...] Why define strict gender roles at home when they're going to be bombarded by it for the rest of their lives?

This. I recall my bafflement when LEGO first announced their "for girls" sets (minifigs with bumps and curves!). To quote one astute father's comment on the subject: "They already have LEGO for girls. They're called LEGO." They had science toys for girls way back when I was a girl and they were called science toys. I had a chemistry set, erector set, real (not toy) microscope, LEGO. There's nothing (or there should be nothing) gendered about these things.

That said, I laud the efforts of any company that attempts to counteract the "girls don't do x" and "boys don't do y" stereotyping that appears to be so overly prevalent in the children's toy industry. While for the moment, at least, it looks like those efforts may need to involve targeting toys in a different-from-the-usual way to shift the status quo, I welcome an end to gender-targeted toys and look forward to a time when children and adults can simply find their own personhood, whatever that might be, and not feel compelled to fit a particular socially-defined role.

Re: LEGO Blocks (Score: 3, Interesting)

by on 2014-04-10 12:44 (#11K)

We had female LEGO people when I was growing up. They were the same flat chested LEGO people with a different hair piece. The stuff they are making now is ridiculous. The girl stuff is all pastels, and the girl LEGO characters are different...WHY?!? I completely agree with you. LEGOS should be unisex. By creating gender roles and pushing gender stereotypes through "special" girl sets, LEGO is crushing the imaginations and futures of half the human population. Girls are being silo'ed into thinking they should grow up to be what the company thinks they should be, and not letting the child really discover what they can be, anything they want. Girls that play with these sets are more likely to fail in life. Not because they are incapable of the same things boys are, but because the company has successfully tricked them into thinking that through marketing.

Society still needs to change.

Re: LEGO Blocks (Score: 2, Interesting)

by on 2014-04-11 12:14 (#11T)

the company has successfully tricked parents into thinking that through marketing.
As a parent of a two and a half year old girl I see this all the time. When I go to buy toys for my daughter I refuse to buy anything in pink, purple or pastel. The fact is though companies aren't tricking the children, they're tricking parents into thinking there is such a thing as boy vs. girl toys.

I once read a comment from a mother about how she couldn't find a kite for her daughter that didn't have some male superhero on it and she loudly complained in the store "I guess girls aren't supposed to fly kites" to which she got a standing ovation in the comment thread. I replied to her that she shouldn't be getting praise for such a stupid comment. She totally missed and awesome opportunity to spend quality time with her daughter, *build* a kite with her and teach her something about engineering and being independent and innovative. A kite is like one of the easiest things to build with a kid, I've never bought a kite before and always built them with my Dad, and I plan on building them with my daughter.

I hate to end up on a sexist rant here, but <sexistRant> I'm very much of the opinion *women* in particular are to blame for the sad state of affairs for toys. In my own family females are the ones to blame for this problem. Against my very specific instructions my sisters (one older, one younger), my mother, my step mother, my mother in-law, aunts and female cousins are the ones insisting on giving her my little ponies, barbies, kitchen sets, tea sets, babies and cutesy stuffed animals to play with. The men in my family contribute to her RESP (which is what I specifically asked people to do), or give her mega blocks, puzzles and learning games.

I've also pulled my daughter out of a couple day cares after witnessing them taking "boy" toys away from her and forcing her to play with baby dolls. If she wants to play with a baby doll instead of a tonka truck fine, but don't take the trucks away from her if she's enjoying them. And who do you think are the primary care givers at day cares? Women

I'm not saying all women are to blame for this, but certainly the ones I personally know are guilty of giving crappy "girl" toys to my daughter then turning around to complain about how girls lack the skills to be engineers because of the toys they *have* to play with, despite me protesting the kinds of toys they keep giving her. My wife is about the only women I know who doesn't fall into this trap, and I suspect it's because she knows if she did I'd disown her, or at the very least she'd have to listen to me complain about it more than I already do. </sexistRant>

Re: LEGO Blocks (Score: 1)

by on 2014-04-09 08:54 (#110)

My friends kids, 4 girls, 3 boys (what can I say, it's Utah)

If you don't mind me going a little off topic: this is a stereotype that I'm not familiar with. I think there's a Mormon prohibition on abortion, but none on other forms of birth control, right? So why the many children?

Re: LEGO Blocks (Score: 2, Insightful)

by on 2014-04-09 09:54 (#111)

I don't think it has anything to do with views on abortion. I think Mormon families just traditionally prefer and appreciate large families. I have several Mormon friends and they all hope to have 4-6 children because they enjoy family life. That's too many kids for my taste, but I can certainly appreciate where they're coming from.

Re: LEGO Blocks (Score: 1)

by on 2014-04-10 06:27 (#11F)

So it's a cultural thing then. Well all right, thanks.

Meccano (Score: 2, Informative)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-04-08 22:55 (#10T)

I miss meccano. Metal parts. Plates. Screws. Wheels. Lots of fun

American phenomenon? (Score: 4, Interesting)

by on 2014-04-08 23:19 (#10W)

Something makes me think this is a bigger problem in the USA than elsewhere. I know the last time I was in a Walmart looking for a fun toy for my daughter I was appalled by how little there was that wasn't pink/fluffy, involved Barbie or equivalent, or some stupid princess.

I will check this company out - I agree we are partly to blame for preferring toys of one type, but holy crap, the manufacturers aren't making it easy on us, at least, not the major stores and distributors.

There exist some very negative reviews (Score: 2, Interesting)

by on 2014-04-09 03:54 (#10Z)

As soon as I saw this story, I was excited, thinking that this was a great concept. After reviewing the Goldiebox web site, I wanted to order some of the products for my daughter.

However, before ordering, I looked around for some more information. I found that on Amazon, there are some very negative reviews. The negative reviews would have you believe that the toys have serious short-comings in the execution of the great concept. For example there were repeated complaints about the toys being frustrating.

There were also a lot of positive reviews, but the negative reviews might keep me from ordering. I do like the concept though.

Re: There exist some very negative reviews (Score: 2, Interesting)

by on 2014-04-09 11:35 (#113)

You can't trust reviews. In this age too many companies hire PR firms to go around either spamming the competition or to write ridiculous, "Toy was awesome, flew my son to Mars where he got his electrical engineering degree at the age of 4 and came back to cure cancer!!!"

Unfortunately the only way to go about it is to buy it and find out for yourself or talk to someone you personally know who has it.