How not to market science to girls

From Discover Magazine: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2011/11/29/how-not-to-market-science-to-girls/

November 29th, 2011

Teaching kids about science is one of the best things we can do. Children are naturally inquisitive and curious; and the methods of science, if taught correctly, can be used to engender a lifelong love of these traits.

So I’m happy when science is encouraged for kids. Still, there are times when I see examples of science education that make me cringe, and shake my head, wondering “What were they thinking?

Enter WILD! Science. This is an apparently successful Australian company that sells science kits for kids. That’s great, and some of the kits look pretty good.

The problem is, they split some of the kits into ones for boys, and ones for girls. And that split is exactly what you think.

For example, for boys: Hyperlauncher, Joke Soap, Perils of the Deep, Weird Slime Lab.

For girls: Mystic Crystals, Beauty Spa Lab, Luxury Soap Lab, Perfect Perfume Lab.

Oh: I’ll add that the boys’ kits are marketed in blue; the girls’ in pink.

Um. Yeah.

Now, I am not a sociologist or a psychologist who studies gender roles and the differences between the sexes. It strikes me that there may be no need to separate the way we teach between boys and girls — my friend and geologist Evelyn Mervine discusses this point further — but I’ll also readily admit that there may very well be differences between the ways boys and girls see the world. If that’s the case, I have no problem with a company, teacher, or parent accepting that and using it to help the child learn. In other words, science is the same for everyone, but how we get people interested in it and learning about may vary from demographic to demographic.

But I don’t think that’s really the issue here. The problem here is these girls’ kits all are almost entirely marketed on the idea that girls should be pretty, or should try to make themselves pretty.

Continue reading at:  http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2011/11/29/how-not-to-market-science-to-girls/

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