There is no doubt that the sudden rise over the last 20 years for STEM toys and this demand has increased steadily, making it one of the most indispensable toys in schools and also for the parents. These toys, with proper guidance, can keep the child occupied for hours, enjoyably.
One of the most important factors that have to be considered for gendered toys is the affordability and aesthetic angle of the toys. Studies have concerned time and again that the cost of the toys for girls is higher when compared with a similar product for a boy of the same age group.
STEM toys for girls and boys
It is, therefore, safe to say that gender bias in educational toys can not just affect the girl and her choice of an occupation in later years, but also, there is still a stark inequality of gender in the current employment markets that do not reflect the beneficial properties of the STEM education for girls.
According to new research conducted in the relevant fields, it has been noted that less than 30% of the workforce in STEM jobs are women. Studies conducted on children six years of age have shown that children by that age have learned the gendered roles and biases. This age is even before kids start school. The problem persists with age as fewer girls opt to break out from the set social standards and the norms that have been prevalent for centuries, albeit, much less than before.
Toy marketing for different genders
Throughout the ages, toys have been marketed either for girls or boys, with the gender-typical toys, such as cars, trucks, and rifles for boys; on the other hand, girls are shown to play with tea sets, dolls, and dollhouses. This typical representation started to change in the early 1970s; however, it came back stronger in the 1980s and 1990s, which was spearheaded by the start of ultrasonography for gender identifications before birth. Although, most studies have stated that the situation now is far worse than before, with clear demarcation on gendered toys.
Different toys have specific functions that it aims to target and assist with. For instance, toys like Lego with building blocks directly impact the spatial skills of the child. Dolls and pretend kitchens are useful for children of both genders to learn sequencing and language skills. Repeated studies have shown how children are completely unaware of the gender biases until they watch and learn from others and the environment
The best way forward
The best way forward is quite uncomplicated; the children should be able to decide what they wish to play with. There is a wide variety of skills that will be targeted with play, each crucially essential for the development of the child. These skills do not need to be separated by gender, as each person is required to have some variations of the basic skills to mature and lead an adult life.
The main changes that are necessary lies with the retailers and the advertising, marketing companies that choose how to showcase the product to the children, and how the setup of the retail store units impact the buyers’ psychology, directly translating into gendered roles.
Campaigns that target children of both genders, instead of highlighting only one for certain toys is the change that is required and essential to changing these purchase patterns that have been prevalent for the last few decades now. To develop the children’s physical, cognitive, academic, musical, and artistic skills, it is necessary to have ample options for gender-neutral toys that will help in achieving the desired results.
As a society, it is the moral obligation to be able to provide the best for the future generations; this should be highlighted and evident in the types of products available for children for their learning and development. Buying DIY projects for kids that live up to this factor is essential for a balanced upbringing for the child.