We are excited to invite you all to celebrate UNC WISE’s one year anniversary with us next Monday, July 1 at 5pm in the Student Union Room 3515. In addition to our regular discussion, we will be providing refreshments and also recognizing members for their contributions to the group and its success. Our discussion will be led by Valerie Schmidt on the influence of gendered toys on children’s future career paths. Please read below for her description and further reading materials. Look forward to seeing you all!
UNC WISE Executive Board
Do the toys we play with influence the career paths we choose?
We have all inevitably cruised the aisles of a toy store at some point and been bombarded by the plethora of tonka trucks and barbie dolls that saturate the market. The fact that they have been traditionally separated into their own sections may even have been convenient depending on your shopping needs and your level of familiarity with shopping for such items.
But does having such a clear distinction of what is a girls’ toy verses what is a boys’ toy effect the rate at which children pursue STEM degrees and careers? The answer: possibly (it’s a complex issue). Surprisingly, some research suggests this highly gendering of toys, and particularly the type of toy that gets relegated to either gender, influences developmental and social skills of young children.
Please read this article from the Journal of Early Childhood Education about expectations of parents and their pre-school children regarding the gender appropriateness of toys. [Reference: Early Childhood Education Journal, Vol. 34, No. 5, April 2007]
Additional food-for-thought: a NY Times article by Peggy Orenstein discussing this issue and Dana Goldstein’s take from The Nation.