I’ve read from time.com “The War on Pink: GoldieBlox Toys Ignite Debate Over What’s Good For Girls“, as Slashdot gained my attention with “Are Girl-Focused Engineering Toys Reinforcing Gender Stereotypes?“.
Being an engineer and father of two wonderful girls I am quite interested in the matter. Quite obviously my wife and me wish the best for them, especially regarding schooling and cultivating their growing interests so that they will be able to earn a living doing what they like.
In fact I’ve been lucky enough to pursuit what I like, being employed for what I like and studying toward that as I attended a “scientific-oriented” high school ending into an engineering faculty. My wife instead has always been induced to chose an high school that “provides culture” with classics (Latin, Greek, philosophy) and then a university that “provides a work” without taking much in account what she did actually like or what she’s good at.
So look what my second, five years old daughter built all alone!
Well, almost alone as I suggested to balance the balconies and I had to help her placing the flowers-made antenna working as a crane.
My first daughter who is two years older also likes to play with Lego but as the Time’s article pointed out the building game was merely a mean to get to the main subject of her game: inventing some stories with Lego characters family with children, mothers, mothers, uncles, aunts, grandmothers and grandfathers.
The second also play with her bigger sister because both likes to invent the story but when they are alone, because one is attending a birthday party for example, the first – more artistically and relation-oriented keeps inventing stories with Lego or dolls, or mini ponies, or whatever while the latter, after finishing the building promptly changed game soon after populating the tower; she seems quite uninterested to invent stories and relationships between characters.
Believe me, I tried to seed interest in building in both, but their natural inclinations are different. One is more technical oriented, the other is more artistic. The younger likes to play with “Cut the rope” and “Where is my water” and with Puzzle bubble. The older prefers to paint and draw. Once I saw the older who stay looking at her sister playing cut the rope; as she is quite shy I told her that we have more than one terminal and that she could also play all the games that her sister were playing. She openly told me that she does not like playing that puzzles.
But she’s far for being less talented! Her math skills are good, she like playing draughts with her grandfather, being quite a good player indeed!
They also received a small Lego Friends box. It seems to me that “girl-only” version of Lego is not appaleable for both as they both prefer the plain old Duplos not because they are targeted to a younger age but because it allows for a far wider spectrum of scenaries. Therefore I don’t know if Lego Friends helps attracting more girls to Legos and other mind-puzzling games but it seems to me that it’s much more important the attitude of their parents and those who choose or help choosing the games.
It’s also amusing t notice that the younger one, the one who likes to build things is also the more girlish, the more fashion-oriented one.
So let them play whichever game they like, boys and girls will choose their path. We are here to guide, to counsel, to advise them as wise as possible.