Give girls Lego or Meccano not Barbies : Dame Athene

Give girls Meccano to play: Dame Athene

Don’t reinforce gender stereotypes says, Dame Athene Donald, the new president of the British Science Association…reports Asian Lite news

Give girls Meccano to play: Dame Athene
Give girls Meccano to play: Dame Athene

Girls toys are dominated by themes of ‘love and magic,’ which reinforce gender stereotypes. Girls should stop playing with Barbies and be given Lego or Meccano instead  to prevent them growing up believing that science and engineering are only for boys, the new president of the British Science Association has said.

Dame Athene Donald, Professor of Experimental Physics at Cambridge University, said that toys for little girls were dominated by themes of ‘love and magic,’ which reinforced gender stereotypes. Speaking before her inaugural address as the new president of the British Science Association (BSA), reports The Daily Telegraph.

In her address Dame Athene said: “We need to change the way we think about boys and girls and what’s appropriate for them from a very early age. Does the choice of toys matter? I believe it does.

“We introduce social constructs by stereotyping what toys boys and girls receive  from the earliest age. Girls toys are typically liable to lead to passivity – combing the hair of Barbie, for instance – not building, imagining or being creative with Lego or Meccano.

“You can see that boys (toys) ads are dominated by power and battle whereas girls seem to be able to get through life on love and magic. I’m sorry, I don’t think that will get them very far and whereas I am no fan of battles the idea that active behaviours is to be encouraged.

Girls looking for work experience were also likely to find themselves in hairdressing salons while boys went to the “local garage”, she said, adds the The Telegraph report.

“This isn’t good for either sex,” said Dame Athene.

She pointed out that her own field of physics was notorious for its lack of girl students, who accounted for only about a fifth of all those taking the subject at A level.

Computing was even less popular with girls – but in psychology they were a “substantial majority”.

Notably girls from single-sex schools were two and a half times more likely to take A level physics than those from mixed schools, the professor added.

But she stressed that a lack of science education was by no means confined to women. It appeared to be culturally acceptable in a way that ignorance about the arts was not, says The Telegraph.

She backed the Royal Society’s call for a Baccalaureate-style exam at age 18 that would encompass a diverse range of subjects including maths and science.