The Science Techno Barbie comes with a spinning closet rack, a rotating shoe rack, and a washing machine. The gendered appliances reinforce sexist stereotypes instead of breaking down a barrier. While it is good to see Barbie use engineering to solve issues, this proves the idea that science must be dumbed down for girls to be able to enjoy it.
Many science kits that are ‘for girls’ just seem to be the pink version of a product that has already been created. Do all science kits for girls need to be smothered in beauty rituals? Do manufacturers believe that girls can’t handle creating a volcano? Do they think girls can’t enjoy learning about car engines? It’s time science kits learned to embrace girls without limiting the science they teach them.
Manufacturers need to start building and marketing science kits to both boys and girls in the same way. This doesn’t mean we need to scrap all the manicure kits, but instead of slapping a bright sign that says ‘for girls’, we can allow all genders to enjoy the wonders of nail polish. This also means that these mega science kits should become more accessible to females as well. We shouldn’t shelter young girls from the horrors of crystal growing, but instead open up the door of possibilities and allow kids to choose what they find most appealing.
We can’t say that we want more females in science and engineering while encouraging them to create perfumes instead of rockets. There is a girl out there that might cure cancer, or find a way for humans to live on Mars, but if we stifle her scientific energy, she can never go to her full potential. Currently, only 29 percent of the science and engineering workforce is female. And that is with all the fashion inspired engineering, so are these girly kits really doing us any favors?
Although these ‘for girls’ science kits limit kids from the amount of science they use, it is still exposing them to a small amount of science and chemistry, which is something to acknowledge. Barbie might not be a rocket, but it’s a step up from where we were 20 years ago.
PHOTO COURTESY OF CREATIVE COMMONS