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Just in time for Christmas
james_nicoll
Science for Girls

Nicked from supergee

WTF, this day and age, what the HELL are they thinking, and any other expression of outraged disbelief. It's too early in the morning to be properly snarky or have coherent comments, but not too early to be outraged.

OK, I'm a bit more coherent. Someone is going to bring up the whole "gender differences in children's interests" idea, but that's missing the point: The Discovery Store is promoting an attitude toward girls that they are interested in crafts and fashion, and not discovery. It's only a bare step up from channelling girls into domestic science.

Thanks for bringing that up. Mind if I post it on a couple more places? This is something that really deserves to be spread around.

I nicked it myself, so I don't see how I can claim any ownership. Besides, information wants to be fr--

Just a minute. I think I hear Andrew Burt at my door.

They think people will pay as much or more for crappy products as long as those products are aimed at women. Same reason why women's clothing is so horrible compared to men's.

That's the whole point.

This isn't an item of information about gender-bases differentials in approaches to science education -- it's an item of information about gender-bases differentials in approaches to getting people to buy cr@p.

And of course, as countless studies have shown, selling must appeal to buying, which is an inherently irrational act -- and plays into all kinds of self-image things (that are socially constructed, yadda, yaddda, yadda ...)

The "science" is used merely as a selling point.

Buy! Buy! Buy!

Don't you realize? The Acquisition Of Material Objects Is The Sole Source Of Human Happiness!!.

Now get out there and buy a microscope for your daughter, or the terrorists will have won, dammit!

You know, I had a whole reply written out, but I deleted it because I realized this whole thing just pisses me off. I think it is true that we should use *every* example we can think of to teach science to kids, including hair, make-up, clothing and cooking, as well as your traditional make-things-go-then-blow-them-up approach. Throw every thing you can think of against a kid until you find the one that sticks, I say, then teach the science behind it.

But, first of all, if you are going to do that, don't take the damned science out!

And second of all, why do they have to code them into "girls' stuff" and "boys' stuff"? Why can't they just have a list of "Here are the science themed toys we are selling this year", and let the parents and/or friends of particular children pick the ones their kids (sons or daughters) will like?

- Ken

But, first of all, if you are going to do that, don't take the damned science out!

Unless you're a Texan, that is.

This is something that really deserves to be spread around.

In case people have never visited a toy shop, or watched adverts on TV?
This is not exactly new, surprising, or a particularly egregious example.

Discovery Store is going under, I hear.

When I was working for the Evil Book Empire last year before Christmas, I felt absolutely filthy posting these things to the new toy store site.

I can't find it on YouTube, but Saturday Night Live had a brilliant toy ad parody called 'Chess for Girls'.

I'm always depressed when people come into my store and ask for reccomendations for "a seven-year-old girl" or a "nine-year-old boy", because it's so damn important to make sure that you get a girl toy for the girl and a boy toy for the boy and not MIX THEM UP AND MAKE THEM GAY or something. And there's occasionally the really depressing ones, like when a girl will come in and be fascinated with the microscopes, and the parents will get her a knitting machine that she obviously doesn't want because it's a girl toy. Gah.

It's also interesting to note that although a fair number of parent-people (or at least, child-gift-buying people) are willing to accept giving a girl non-gendered or more "boy-oriented" toys (robot kits, "disgusting science" kits, bugs/dinosaurs/rockets), I've seen very, very few instances of people willing to give "girl-oriented" toys (craft stuff, especially if it's OMG PINK) to boys.

I'm quite glad my parents were one of those very few instances. My brother and I had quite a lot of fun with our Fisher-Price looms (Take yarn and a 10-inch-square 2-inch thick chunk of foam and make a pillow!), and things like that. And occasionally with our baby dolls, when we were younger, though I don't remember doing much with them.

Though, being a sensible kid, I sort of had an aversion to OMG PINK. That aisle of the toy store is scary.

Oddly, I have just been looking on eBay for a Palm of a sufficiently old model that my niece can take it to school without her parents worrying about her being mugged. The reason why I am doing this is that some months back I got handed niece's friend's new pink-and-Barbied "pda" to fix when it refused to work properly. After declaring it something that needed to go back to the shop for an exchange, I then got out my Palm IIIxe -- which is old and boringly grey, but as niece rapidly noticed, does a lot more things than the Barbie one does. *And* it connects to the big computer to download more stuff, which the Barbie one doesn't.

Guess which one she wants for Christmas. I'm proud of her. :-)

Palms of sufficient age are often found in surplus shops--I know that XSCargo locally was selling Palm IIIx and IIIxe for about thirty bucks each. (That's where I got mine.)

I may need to go for a slightly more modern one just to get a USB-enabled one, but even those are pretty cheap on eBay now.

Either that, or buy a TX for me, and give her my IIIxe and its serial/USB cable...

Heh. Isn't that how tech buying works? You buy the spiffy new thing you're dying for, and you pass on your still-working old one to a relative who doesn't have one yet.

That's right. My brother gives me his cast-off technology. Good thing I really like black and grey and silver :-)

Ha! Excellent!

Back to the microscope example in the linked article: I'd go on ebay and get a real, but beat up microscope. (Though I might buy the "isn't it nifty" kit as a primer - preferably from someplace that carries more gender-neutral sciencey stuff.)

Argh! I think it's time to found the radical underground Gentian B. Meriweather Liberation Front.